Law Enforcement Gets Hit From Many Angles
With various events and anti-police movements across the country we have seen many changes in law enforcement over the last few years. Such changes may deal with statutes, courts, civil disorder, mandated training, citizen cooperation, public relations and even the ability to provide certain law enforcement services.
Most recently I received a letter from another sheriff about an excellent Cyber Crimes Task Force in Missouri that will disband at the end of the 2023 grant year. Many circumstances were cited but the basic and most difficult issue is inability to fill open positions and chronic employee turnover.
Cyber Crimes are a huge part of law enforcement in today's world. The employee training and dedication requirements are huge. Most smaller and medium sized agencies in Missouri cannot afford to have their own cyber expert/unit nor the ability to pay an officer with those skills.
I share the opinion of many law enforcement leaders in that until municipal, county, and state governments open their eyes as to what is needed for public safety and the ability to attract and retain quality employees, then our ability to serve and protect our communities will only continue to diminish. We understand there is only so much revenue in government but when agencies of similar size are paying thousands more per year per employee, additional benefits, and many other things to attract sworn officers and dispatchers it is nearly impossible to compete. Perfect example is for a good part of last year this office was down approximately 40% on deputies and we are not alone and we have only been able to hire 2 people as road deputies which took place in December 2022. We lost one position in 2023 due to issues with federal funding and I am allowed to fill a current vacant position only on or after July 01, 2023.
Just as with any business or organization an inexperienced employee typically does not hold the value of a well-trained and experienced employee. Minimal versus high level of supervision requirements consume even more time in small agencies. Some think just because you graduate a police academy or are hired as a dispatcher that is all you need; there is SO much more to it. Law enforcement and public safety is extremely high responsibility and liability. Basic academy time is in all aspects only enough to get the cadet hurt and sued. Our communities, employees and organizations truly deserve better.
On a brighter note I would like to challenge you to do something positive. Take time to do something nice for 3 people over the next week. It can be as simple as holding the door for someone, allowing a person with an arm load of items to go ahead of you at check out, or simply buy the meal for the stranger behind you in a drive through. It is amazing how good doing something nice for others will make you feel. Help pass it forward and smile all the way home.
Thank you for taking the time to read this editorial and for supporting local law enforcement. Remember the Office of Sheriff is the last voice you have in law enforcement on any level. Be safe.
Sheriff Steve Cox