St. Louis Police Department Falls 140 Officers Short

Police union blames low pay, residency rule and hostile politicians

Kevin Killeen
August 07, 2018 - 4:46 pm

KMOX file photo

ST. LOUIS--(KMOX)--Despite a recent raise and efforts to recruit more officers, the city police department has fallen 140 officers short of its authorized strength, according to new numbers released by the police union.

The Police Officers Association reports there are 1,188 officers on the force, 140 officers short of the authorized strength of 1,328 officers.

Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda blames the shortfall on serval factors.

"You know, when you've got every department around paying more, and you've got a city that has a residency requirement, and officers are forced to live in the deadliest city in the country, and on top of that, you have so many politicians in the city who are openly hostile toward police officers," Roorda said.

Roorda praises Chief Hayden for trying to increase recruitment, but notes that of the most recent cadet class--which could hold up to 40 prospects--started with 27 cadets and only fifteen graduated.

Roorda blames the residency rule, and also city public schools.

"They hiring pool is kids who are largely a product of the city schools," Roorda said, "and a lot of those kids aren't prepared academically; they're certainly not prepared to handle the structure and discipline of a para-military police academy."

Earlier this summer, city police started receiving a $6,000 raise after voters approved a tax hike. But Roorda says it's not enough to lure in new officers to move into the city.

"You know, I was hoping when we got that raise, that we would start to bend that curve in the right direction and start catching up with the authorized strength," Roorda said, "but instead we were staying flat, and now we're losing ground."

Also making the problem worse, Roorda says many officers are opting to retire with a lesser pension after twenty years, so they can work in a safer municipality and make more money.

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