Hannibal Police and Fire chiefs hope pay raises help alleviate manpower shortages

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Hannibal Fire Chief Ryan Neisen and Hannibal Police Chief Jacob Nacke.

HANNIBAL, Mo. – Hannibal Police Chief Jacob Nacke hopes to soon welcome new officers on board.

The City of Hannibal budget was approved by the city council Tuesday night, which included 10 percent raises across the board for City of Hannibal employees. The raises were approved by council in a special meeting held on May 31. 

The Hannibal Police Department is feeling the nationwide officer shortage. 

Research by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) shows the number of officers hired has declined in the last few years. PERF reported that news hires were 0.9 percent lower in January 2023 than the previous year. 

Also, 4.8 percent fewer officers were hired in January 2022 than in January 2020.

“The problem we are facing is that there is such a small pool of applicants for people who want to be police officers but a large demand for them,” Nacke siad. “Other agencies across the state and country really have put their A-game forward.”

Various competing departments are paying significantly higher, some starting at $55,000-65,000 per year. Nacke pointed out the Wentzville Police Department where new officers are starting at $74,000.

Hannibal police officers were making between $43,000 and $44,000. The increase starts them at $48,000, which Nacke said will help with recruitment.

“Being able to go up to $48,000 gets us closer to that market and keeps us in the game a little bit,” Nacke said. “That’s really all I am asking for is to stay in the game so we can remain competitive. I am not trying to be the highest paid department in the area.”

The Hannibal Fire Department is in a similar position, as Fire Chief Ryan Neisen reports significant turnover in the past few years.

The ten percent increase will raise the starting salary of firefighters to $40,000 and Neisen believes the update will help with retention rate. 

“The pay increases are imperative in recruiting and retaining quality personnel,” he said. “This is a huge step in the right direction in reversing the current trend.”

Both chiefs are grateful for the Hannibal City Council’s work on making the raises happen. The city council is also looking to secure higher pay for the future. Councilman Stephan Franke and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Dobson introduced two different tax proposals to fund the raises for the long term, which are now being looked at.

“I don’t really have an opinion either way on the proposals but I am just glad they are having the conversations. They are realizing there is a problem and looking to see what they can do,” Nacke said. “That’s the best I can ask for.”

Nacke plans to begin a push for new officers after the 4th of July and looks forward to advertising their new starting salary. The next academy class they can get people into is September.

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