Letter to the Editor: Allowing officers to reside in Missouri would help staffing issues with Quincy Police Department
This letter is in response to an article published Aug. 10 by WGEM titled “Quincy Police Department looks to fill ten open positions.”
The Quincy Police Department’s manpower issues emerged in 2020 when fewer applicants applied to become police officers. In part, this may have been due to the national rhetoric against the police. In response, then-Chief Rob Copley eliminated the Street Crimes Unit, a group of proactive officers tasked with handling violent criminals, drug crimes and assisting with any high-priority cases.
When COVID hit, all police academies in the state closed, and the hiring of new officers was frozen. Meanwhile, Quincy officers retired or accepted employment at other departments, further exacerbating the Quincy Police Department’s manpower issues. The police academies re-opened in 2021, but there are still not enough qualified applicants applying to become police officers.
The Quincy Police Department is operating with 28 patrol officers. It is authorized to have 42. Additionally, there are currently talks of having to cut two detective positions starting Jan. 1, 2023.
The Quincy Police Department operates at minimum patrol staffing levels to serve the citizens of Quincy. When staffing drops below the minimum, the police department attempts to “hire back” a police officer voluntarily who is not already scheduled to work that day. When a voluntary hire back is unfilled, the hire back is mandated. Mandatory hire backs are circumstances when officers not scheduled to work that day are required to work involuntarily. From 2018-20, there were 18 mandatory hire backs. In 2021, there were 28 mandatory hire backs. So far in 2022, there have been 73 mandatory hire backs.
These issues are not unique to Quincy. Almost every police department around the country has the same problems. What is unique to Quincy is our ability to offer something most other departments in Illinois can not — Missouri residency.
Three Quincy Police Officers have left for jobs with the Illinois State Police during the past year. By allowing officers to reside in Missouri, Quincy could offer a benefit that the State Police cannot. This would help with recruiting not only Missouri officers but officers from other departments across the state of Illinois. Employing current police officers bypasses (the time and cost of training someone at) the Police Academy and quickly gets more police on the street to boost manpower months sooner than brand new hires.
Today, Quincy officers must live in Adams County within six months of their hire date. The union (Police Benevolent and Protective Association Labor Committee Unit 12) has been in talks with Mayor (Mike) Troup and the city administration about allowing officers to reside within 30 miles from City Hall to include Missouri. This additional residency requirement would cost nothing to implement and offer a truly unique incentive for our city.
However, Mayor Troup and his administration wish to hold this mutually beneficial policy hostage as a negotiating tactic to force the union to accept a new contract on the city’s terms. The public should know that no matter what the mayor may say, he is not taking this basic step to staff the Quincy Police Department.
Police Benevolent and Protective Association Labor Committee Unit 12
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