In an effort to fill vacant law enforcement jobs within its agency, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office announced this month that it would offer a paid, full-time regional training academy starting in January, and so far, the sheriff’s office says nearly 30 people have applied.
A sheriff’s office spokesman said the decision to make its academy go from part time to full time and to pay for recruits’ training ties back to the county’s law enforcement sales tax voters approved in April.
Capt. Kevin Tieman said the agency hopes to have at least 20 new recruits by January in order to fill vacant positions the agency cited earlier this year before the April election. In March, Cass County Sheriff Jeff Weber had described a “dire” situation at the sheriff’s office, and said 16 positions within the sheriff’s office had been vacant, including 14 deputy jobs.
“We’re on the edge of not being able to keep pace with what’s going on because we’re so short,” Weber said in March. “If this doesn’t pass, I’m afraid we’re going to get even shorter. We’re just looking to protect our people and make it a good community.”
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The sales tax, which amounts to one-fourth of a penny per dollar spent in the county, is intended to bring in more money for law enforcement purposes, including the sheriff’s office and prosecuting attorney’s office. Officials estimated that the tax would generate about $3 million per year.
The sheriff’s office had said it would use the tax revenue to recruit new employees and continue its step-salary plan.
The sales tax issue passed by a wide margin in April.
Four months later, the sheriff’s office announced it would offer the full-time training academy.
Tieman said the academy normally takes 10 months to complete. For the past several years, the agency said it had been running a part-time academy. But by January, the academy will take about half the time to finish. The agency also said paying for the training should help widen its pool of prospective candidates.
“Many police departments and sheriff’s offices are having a hard time identifying and hiring qualified candidates,” Tieman said in a news release. “Sheriff Weber has decided to create our own pool of qualified candidates by hiring and paying for their academy training.”
As of Monday, Tieman said the first test last week had almost 30 applicants. The sheriff’s office said it will hold several testing dates for applicants between now and Oct. 15.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office started taking applications for full-time academy recruits on Aug. 1.
The sheriff’s office said recruits will earn a starting salary of $29,359. Upon successful completion of the academy and Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification, recruits will be commissioned as a deputy sheriff at a starting salary of $40,627.
The academy requires that applicants fill out a pre-screen questionnaire. Recruiters then contact applicants and provide them with continued information on the hiring process.
The law enforcement training offered at the academy is approved by the Missouri Department of Public Safety in Jefferson City.
For more information, visit www.cassmosheriff.org.