Missouri lawmakers passed a change to an old law that could help local sheriff’s departments when it comes to hiring.
It repeals a law in place since 1939 that banned them from hiring deputies from out of state.
Sergeant Tim Williams lives in McDonald county but drives to work at the Jasper County Sheriff’s office and has for 13 years. Williams said, “To get to this office from my house takes me about forty minutes.”
For some who live in the neighboring states of Kansas, even Oklahoma, it could be an even shorter commute. And with the passage of Senate Bill 652, a seventy-nine year ban on hiring out of state officers goes away for sheriffs in August.
Sgt. Williams reacted optimistically. “If it widens the recruiting pool for us, that’s a great deal for us. It will help out quite a bit,” he said.
Deputy candidates would have to be Missouri P.O.S.T. certified meeting, police officer standards training. But Captain Trevor Duncan, with the Joplin police department said ten officers already did that to work at the JPD.
He explained, “At the end of the day it’s a lot less inconvenient for them to obtain a Missouri certification than to have to move to Missouri to work here.”
Sgt. Williams said the difference in state standards and requirements usually means the Kansas officer for example needs several years of experience to qualify to work in Missouri.
The law change comes at a time when recruiting has been difficult for law enforcement agencies. Jasper County Chief Deputy Derek Walrod said,“In the past, it used to be if you had two openings you might have thirty people show up to test for it. And now, if we have two openings, we’ll be lucky to get a half dozen people that are qualified that want the job.”
Williams, who does the recruiting for the Jasper county sheriff’s office said, “I think Ferguson’s the biggest factor. I think you see the negativity against the police in the media quite often. It’s like why would I want to enter that profession.”
Joplin also is struggling to fill sixteen openings for officers. Double what it had a year ago. And with competition for officers, Jasper county hopes the law change opens up a bigger pool of applicants.
Pay is also a factor in law enforcement in gaining and losing officers. Williams contends some Kansas communities pay less than Jasper county which could make it a draw. But Jasper county sheriff’s office recently lost two deputies. One to a department in Texas that pays twice the salary. Another left to work for a private company.
The new hiring law goes into effect on august 28th.
By Lisa Olliges | KOAM TV