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Riverside among police departments raising base pay to stay competitive

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Posted at 10:06 PM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 00:14:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Local police departments say it’s getting harder and harder to entice people to join the force.

Data from various metro police departments hiring pages show annual pay in the low to mid $40,000 range.

One department is starting to see results because of a change, and now other departments are starting to follow its lead.

“It was pretty competitive in our marketplace,” said Det. Shaun Zufelt, Riverside Police Department. “We are a small city sandwiched between some much larger ones, so it’s very hard to find good, qualified candidates.”

Zufelt said there needed to be a change.

“I think our career and passion has kind of taken a hit,” he said. “It’s hard to find qualified people. Pay is on the things that gets mentioned when we go out and recruit and talk to people about a career in law enforcement. People are like well, it’s synonymous of not being paid very — we want to kind of break that idea that you could get paid poorly.”

A few months ago, the city of Riverside voted to increase base pay of starting new officers to $50,000 and to raise other salaries for retention.

It’s been a few months since the city made the change, and Zufelt says it’s proved to be competitive.

“It’s definitely helped us get applicants in the door and help us fill some of our positions, we still have two positions open,” he said.

People who live in Riverside are pleased to see the latest positions filled.

“It makes me feel safe as a citizen in Riverside that my officers are getting paid what they are due and they are protecting my community and my safety as well,” Yvette Tanner said.

Zufelt hopes other departments take note of Riverside's success.

“I’m looking to see other cities copy us, I think a lot of people are talking about raising that base pay because it’s kind of a big step in leadership,” Zufelt said.

Parkville is looking to follow suit.

On Tuesday, Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman asked the city to increase officers' wages from $41,600 dollars.

“I’ve actually turned people away because I can’t afford you because we’ve been so tight,” Chrisman told council members.

After discussion, Parkville approved the chief’s plan and will start new officers at $50,000 while also increasing the current officers' pay, too.

The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department said it has openings as well.

KCPD said in August it saw a nearly 5% reduction in staff.

In 2019, the department lost 180 members but hired 200.

In 2021, KCPD lost 120 members and only hired 19.