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Kansas City, Missouri, police increase starting pay by 30% to help officers

Posted at 4:26 PM, Apr 12, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been one week since the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council approved the Kansas City Police Department's fiscal year budget.

Included with the approved budget was a major salary increase for officers; Starting officers will now see a 30% salary increase.

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Officers recently began working 11-hour shifts, that, combined with training and a pay increase, has the department believing hiring and retention will come much easier.

“I’m fielding phone calls from all over the place!” KCPD employment Capt. Justin Pinkerton said.

Pinkerton knows the last few years haven’t looked like this.

“We lost 120 officers in 2021 when our average was 65 people leaving the department,” he said. “Our attrition rate used to be 65 on average. Now it's 95.”

He says they’ve been operating in a staffing shortage.

“We’ve taken a significant hit,” he said. “I think we can all agree it's been pretty challenging across the nation to hire.”

Pinkerton says the department has about 1,100 law enforcement currently on staff and is looking to hire another 150.

Starting officer pay is now $65,000 compared to $50,000. It's a bump they hope makes the department more competitive.

“It absolutely will help in our recruiting,” Pinkerton said. “Our pay was near the middle bottom [across the metro] we’re going to be at the top now, in salary.”

“It makes you feel valued and appreciated by your city council and elected officials,” he said. “We are putting our lives on the line for this community. Dealing with inflation, officers were struggling to just make it, from daycare to everything, everything is expensive. We’re not only taking the stress of our job, but then the financial stress that came along with it too. It was affecting the wellness aspect of our department, to be totally honest with you.”

Pinkerton said top pay is now $104,000.

“We get to top out really quick, we top out in seven years," he said. "Some agencies, it takes 20. That’s a long time. That’s a lot of cheddar on the table."

Their priority is finding local hires, but they say the word has gotten out nationally.

“We‘ve had a lot of phone calls, in our lateral program, a lot of officers from surrounding agencies and others states have been contacting us, saying, ‘Hey I want to come over, I saw this new pay thing,’” he said. “We’re having people who left the department and take jobs elsewhere are coming back. I’ve processed three of those. I think that’s a real sign that we are going in the right direction.”

“Local talent is so important," he said. "They are familiar with the community. They have buy-in from the community they know. They are aware of the problems so they can focus on them."

In just two weeks, on April 27, the Regional Police Academy begins testing. Pinkerton says for more information to call the department visit their website or show up.

“I enjoy the challenge of hiring,” he said. “We can get this place staffed up. Kansas Citians will rise to the challenge. Come out and apply to serve our communities.”

“Any stress we can take off an officer, they are going to be a better officer in the community,” he said.

Pinkerton also said there are 105 non-law enforcement jobs that are also open.

“Crime scene tech, parking control, accountants, attorneys if you name it we do have it," he said. "I think people see KCPD and think law enforcement only, that’s just not the case."

Pinkerton said KCPD officers also have contracts to work with private companies, for extra hours, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, T-mobile arena, hotels and Quik Trip.