It Seems to B.
We vote on a one-fourth-cent sales tax for “Law enforcement and public safety” on Nov. 5th and I realized how little I know about our police force.
Affable Police Chief Rick Bashor and Sgt. Ryan O’Boyle filled me in:
The City’s budget is $1.8 million for 16 police officers (12 on the road, three detectives and the Chief), seven dispatchers and one person in records and administration. At one time there was a school safety officer, but the school district handles that now.
They operate six leased patrol cars and two SUVs for the Chief and the detectives. The road patrol operates on 12-hour shifts with two persons assigned to each car. The automobiles are Dodge Chargers and average about 17,500 miles per year. The plan is to upgrade them every four years and Bashor says the next generation may include more SUVs.
While the officers feel like they have a solid department with the money they have, they see turnover as the biggest problem because they are losing trained personnel to departments that pay more.
In the past three years, the CPD has incurred a turnover rate of 31.25% The losses have averaged 1.6 officers per year. The loss in dispatchers has been over 30% annually. Three of the five officers who left are still in law enforcement jobs (Highway Patrol, Clay County and Nodaway County).
Starting pay at Cameron is $34,500 while nearby agencies include Kearney at $39,484, St. Joseph $38,854, Smithville $38,563 … and on up from there to Independence’s $44,532. Benefits include health care and retirement
To apply to be as policeman/woman in Cameron, you must first complete a six-month Police Academy. There are several located in this vicinity.
Training and outfitting a first-year officer costs around $57,000. That includes, uniforms and equipment in addition to training in firearms, CPR, background checks, tasers, etc. So, when you lose 1.6 officers per year, the write-off cost is $96,000.
The costs of keeping dispatchers is even more discouraging: The hourly wage here is $13.88 – nearly $5/hour under the national average. Again, Cameron is not able to keep trained, experienced dispatchers.
Let’s do the numbers, starting with the approximately $330,000 the new tax would raise.
That money would help Cameron come closer to the national average of 2.36 officers per 1,000 population. We now have 1.6.
The starting point on the Pay Matrix would be increased to make us competitive with those around us.
Repairs on the headquarters building could be made – starting with a new roof. The building was erected in 1997.
Computers are dated and are no longer supported.
It could allow the purchase of body cameras.
More officers could be hired.
Immediately a $3 additional could be paid to existing officers and $2 additional for dispatchers. That bump in pay would cost $98,841 per year. Now we are paying
$92,800 in turnover costs for officers. The dispatcher’s’ cost would go up nearly $33,000 per year. The turnover cost has been $33,355 for dispatchers.
The CPD is especially proud of their financial stewardship: They usually return about 6-7 percent of the budget annually ($100,000+) instead of spending it just because it is available to them.
They work hard at getting grants and have gotten mobile data terminals from the Police Chiefs Assn., Radar units and a Lidar unit from MODOT, inter-agency radios from the state, etc.
The primary benefit of more pay would be to combat expensive turnover … and to continue the resistance to more and more criminal problems.
In the past six years, drug related calls have more than doubled (135%)
Arrests have increased 55%
Suicide and EDP (Emotionally disturbed people) calls have increased from 24 in 2016 to 61 last year and the total so far this year is 50.
The increase in local crime (including three area murders this summer) mirrors crime increases across the state.
St. Louis has already seen over 150 homicides this year and is on pace to surpass the total of 186 last year. Murders are also on the rise in Kansas City with over 100 homicides already and a pace to top the 138 killings last year. Both cities have among the nation’s highest murder rates.
Missouri’s murder rate of 9.9 persons per 100,000 is second only to Louisiana’s 11.4. East St. Louis (Illinois) is the most dangerous place for murders with St. Louis third and Kansas City 27th. Chicago did not make the top 30.
The Top Ten murder cities in the world are all in Central America. Acapulco, Mexico, ranks third. That is why cruise ships don’t stop there anymore.