Cops Head for the Exit


Policing, even under the best of circumstances, is a challenging and difficult occupation.

But when you combine low pay with high levels of frustration and better paying opportunities in the private sector, you get a situation like the one St. Louis area law enforcement officials are dealing with.

In short, this is the worst year for attrition (cops leaving their jobs) anyone can remember.

The St. Louis County P.D. has an authorized strength of 857 officers but lost 34 last year. That’s about 4 percent of the force, a statistic that Chief Jon Belmar said is double that of 2013.

The County Council recently gave raises to the entire force for the first time in years, hoping that the increased pay would stem the tide of departures.

Sergeants and police officers got 7 percent; higher ranks got 10 percent raises. The chief and deputy police chief got raises separately.

But the only way to tell if this is a one-off type deal or the beginning of a troubling trend will be to see how many officers leave this year.



Until STL County goes and start’s repealing some of these obsolete, to the point of sheer idiocy, hiring criteria, the 7 year residency requirement to begin with, they are going to continue to lose both good people who want to come in, and can’t because of outdated hiring criteria, and are going to lose good people on now simply because they see a Department that’s not going to support them, money not being an issue, since the County is going to make it just that much more difficult to bring new people on, to cope with the increasing workload. The old example of a blivet, in this case the current workload, being 10 lbs. being jammed into a 5 lbs. bag, the current and shrinking Department manpower pool, is now playing itself out. Then add the fact that the County (and it’s not just St Louis either ! ) has this ‘Old Boy’ or KMA-for-the-job attitude and is it a wonder why ANY POLICE DEPARTMENT, SHERIFFS OFFICE OR HIGHWAY PATROL is having such a huge problem not with just hiring, but now with retention, with the seen-on-the-horizon coming retirement’s of the people who came on in the late 70’s and 80’s fast approaching, if not already here in many Agency’s. Until Dept.’s start realizing that it’s not the money, but the Applicant’s desire to contribute to the Dept. and the Community, is THE KEY HIRING CRITERIA, then this ‘group clusterhumping’ is just going to go on, and on, until it eventually implodes, and then it’s going to be too late. Good people who want to do the job have never bothered about the money, other than for their families, and that’s an issue that can be dealt with, responsibly, if the County wants to. They don’t and the result’s are already here, and aren’t going to get any better……………………..

You think St. Louis is bad? Memphis, TN has gone from a complement of 2500 officers in 2012 to just under 2100 currently. Due to the Mayor and Ctiy Council’s decision to cut pensions, cut salaries and triple healthcare costs for retirees, officers are leaving Memphis for other departments in droves. There were 34 resignations and 32 retirements in 2010 compared to 98 resignations and 76 reitrements in 2014. All of this is compounded by the fact that there has been a hiring freeze for the last two years so only 39 new officers have been commissioned since 2013. With Memphis being named this year by the FBI as the third most dangerous city in the nation, good luck getting officers to choose this department when choosing a career!

Anyone who thinks 4% is a high number to have lost should take a look at how many the Asheville Police Department out of North Carolina lost in 2014, it more than quadruples that 4%

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