City of Springfield News Releases (General)

Posted on: August 13, 2014

Mayor expresses concerns about staffing issues

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For decades, the retirement of the baby boom generation has been a looming economic threat. Now, it’s no longer looming — it’s here. Every month, more than a quarter-million Americans turn 65.

It’s a topic Mayor Bob Stephens is all too familiar with, having retired himself from a 30-plus year career.

“I have been talking about this and worrying about this since the late 1980s,” Stephens explained. “And now the problem is really coming home to roost here at the City of Springfield.”

The Mayor is referring to an ongoing discussion at the City about Police staffing needs. City Council has had pained discussions and struggled to understand attrition issues with SPD, due to retirements, lateral moves, retiree payouts and other impacts on staffing numbers that come along with being a high-intensity, high level of burn-out line of work.

The lengthy schedule required to effectively train highly-skilled police officers also compounds the problem. “We’ve put together a chart to show the impact of that schedule on effective replacement,” Stephens said.

The chart (see link below) shows that the Springfield Police Department has a training program lasting nine months and that there are an average of two officers per month leaving the force, primarily through retirements.

“So, during a training class of 20 recruits,” said Stephens, “by the time they are ready to go out on the streets, there have been 18 retirements—thus giving us a net gain of only two officers. At that rate, it will take years to catch up.”

“Other City departments are facing similar challenges,” said City Manager Greg Burris. “Like a lot of private companies and many municipalities, we are facing recruitment issues as older employees retire. Many times, there are not enough qualified applicants to fill the positions that open up.”

“We are scheduled to hire 25 recruits to begin the Police Academy in January,” said Burris. “And we also have the grant request for an additional ten that we’ll know about in the new future.”

Council and City staff continue to work together to explore options for hiring additional police officers, but Stephens emphasizes it is a delicate balance due to the many strains put on a budget that has growing expenses that don’t have projected revenues to even “come close to keeping pace.”

That gap between projected revenues and expenses widens even bigger when Burris looks into the near future. “Our current model is just not sustainable,” Burris said. “So, the City of Springfield is embarking on a ten-year budgeting review and projection process.” The purpose of this is to try to get a grasp on revenues and expense requirements over a longer period of time.

Burrs is working with the City’s leadership team to develop various ten-year budget scenarios that will be presented to City Council by the end of the 2014 calendar year.

For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), cscott@springfieldmo.gov.

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