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Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department looking to hire officers

The department is down to five patrol officers. The chief said they need 16.

BELLEFONTAINE NEIGHBORS, Mo. — The Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department is looking to hire officers. Like departments across the country, they are hurting for officers on the streets. Right now they have five patrol officers, they need 16.

"People don't have anything to worry about being safe in this community," Mayor Tommie Pierson said. "Dial 911 and I guarantee someone will come to the rescue."

"Police calls for service, such as violent calls for service," Chief Jeremy Ihler said. "You will have an officer there. People who call for non-emergencies like a derelict vehicle, you may have to wait a bit."

Chief Ihler points to three factors that have led officers to leave and join other departments. 

"They are looking for a good working environment, reasonable pay and benefits, and respect," Ihler said. "Right now all those things aren't being met."

"Open support, open respect is what they are looking for. Right now they aren't seeing that."

He said the staffing problem has been growing for a year. 

"The backbone of any police department is the patrol division," Ihler said. "People want to know that someone is going to show up if they call. I don't think it will come to the point where staffing continues to erode. But my fear is if it does, it will greatly impact the safety of our citizens and guests that come through here."

The chief expects city leaders to bring up and approve a pay raise as a way to retain and recruit more officers. 

If approved, base bay would jump $6,000, from $50,000 to $56,000. 

The meeting is on Thursday at City Hall at 9641 Bellefontaine Road at 7:30.

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