TIMELY COMMENTARY

A ‘ripple effect’ in local policing efforts

By Robert Rickerd, Owensville City Marshal
Posted 7/16/20

I wanted to take a moment to briefly explain my concerns to the community over the recent issue of “anti-police” rhetoric that is occurring on a national level. 

For those of you …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in
TIMELY COMMENTARY

A ‘ripple effect’ in local policing efforts

Posted

I wanted to take a moment to briefly explain my concerns to the community over the recent issue of “anti-police” rhetoric that is occurring on a national level. 

For those of you in the community that may or may not follow the national news, what has been occurring over the past several months has been devastating to law enforcement as a whole. The death of George Floyd several months ago in Minneapolis, Minn., due to unlawful use of force by an on-duty officer was, to say the least, sickening. 

Law enforcement nation wide saw this incident as something that should have never happened; however, in recent months since his death, the law enforcement field is being tarnished as a whole. As you all know, like any other profession, there will always be a few “bad apples” that will damage the reputation of that specific profession. 

Now, on a national level, all law enforcement agencies are being judged by certain individuals in a negative way which is having a rippling effect on individuals currently in law enforcement or considering the law enforcement field. Prior to all of this, smaller agencies, like Owensville Police Department, and/or smaller sheriff department agencies would struggle to attract and/or retain good personnel. 

Larger municipalities have more to offer in terms of higher salary and better benefits. The 25 years I have been employed with the city of Owensville, a majority of the individuals who have left have went to larger neighboring agencies mainly due to the better salary and benefit packages. 

Now, information I have gathered show is this trend resulting in early retirement for officers or officers leaving the law enforcement field for other professions. Now, because of the rippling effect from this anti-police rhetoric, smaller agencies are seeing concerns such as less people enrolling in police academies (which in turn means fewer graduates). 

This means the few applicants graduating the academies are in “high-demand” and are being swayed by larger agencies due to them being able to provide better salary and benefit packages. 

I have spoken to numerous departments, small and large, within a 100-mile radius and a majority of all these agencies are short-handed and have multiple vacant road positions that cannot be filled. My concern for the Owensville Police Department and smaller agencies of our size, is that the larger agencies may recruit/ persuade our current officers to seek employment elsewear. 

I am very thankful for the support the community of Owensville and the mayor and Board of Alderman have given the police department and me over the past 25 years I have been employed with the city of Owensville. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this pertaining to the anti-police rhetoric and the struggle of hiring and retaining of police officers along with the lack of interest from possible applicants. 

As some of you may know, the Owensville Police Department is currently two full-time officers shorthanded and I believe the Gasconade County Sheriff’s Office is several deputies shorthanded also. 

I informed the Board of Aldermen, mayor and Gasconade County R-2 School District Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner, about a month ago, I do not foresee us being able to have a School Resource Officer in our schools anytime soon this school year, due to officer Brenn Finley needing to be on the road covering our shifts. 

Detective Rob Green, who handles a lot of our internet crimes, sex crimes, and felony crimes, is having to prioritize his caseload because of the minimum amount of “investigation days” he is allowed now that he is also covering the road more due to the shortage of officers. 

For those of you who have known me for 25 years while employed with the city, you know I will always be straight forward with you and give you the information as it is. I am concerned and worried with the anti-police movement and how it will affect the entire police community, large and small. 

As I said at the beginning of this letter, all of the above is having a rippling effect, even us here in Central Missouri. 

(Police Chief Robert Rickerd is the elected city marshal for the city of Owensville). 

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment