Law Enforcement Careers in Missouri

With widespread law enforcement officer shortages being reported throughout Missouri, there may be no better time than now to explore career options with municipal police departments, county sheriff’s offices or the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Many agencies throughout the state are reporting that they don’t have an adequate number of officers on the force, while others see looming shortages as officers prepare for retirement.

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In 2019, Missouri Governor Mike Parson brought the problem to the attention of the public, announcing that law enforcement agencies across the state are having difficulty filling open positions. As of February 2022, police shortages persist, with reports showing about 40 vacancies in Springfield and 20 vacancies in Columbia and police retirements and resignations spiking some 60% in places like St. Louis in 2021 alone.

The good news is that with openings available with agencies all over the state, anybody that has what it takes to get into this line of work will find an unprecedented number of opportunities. With a commitment to justice, a strong sense of morality, and the right training under your belt, you can serve on the frontlines of Missouri’s law enforcement efforts and commit yourself to a meaningful career serving and protecting the people of your community.

Missouri Highway Patrol

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is organized into 20 divisions, all of which work toward the ultimate goal of providing the best service and protection to the roadways and citizens of the state. This state agency is primarily responsible for enforcing traffic laws and promoting safety on Missouri’s highways, but as commissioned officers they have full law enforcement authority.

Candidates for trooper positions with the Missouri State Highway Patrol must have at least one of the following: two years of college credit; military service; or law enforcement experience as a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)-certified officer.

Law Enforcement Jobs in Missouri: County Sheriff’s Departments

POST certification is a major prerequisite for deputies throughout the county sheriff’s offices of Missouri. Sheriff’s departments in Missouri are staffed with dedicated deputies who patrol the streets of the state’s unincorporated areas, oversee the county jails, provide security to the courts, and provide backup to municipal and state agencies.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is comprised of warrant, patrol, courthouse security, and mounted posse divisions. This latter division consists of a volunteer force of certified officers who ride horse patrols, proving valuable as a search and rescue unit in environments with difficult terrain.

Candidates must have no felony or serious misdemeanor offenses on their record and must be able to successfully pass a criminal background check, drug screen and driving record check.

Cass County Sheriff’s Office

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office oversees the Cass County Jail, court security, patrol, and investigations throughout the county. The patrol division consists of 27 deputy sheriffs who are responsible for patrolling the county’s 700+ square miles.

Applicants for deputy positions must have or be able to obtain a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification.

Platte County Sheriff’s Office

The Platte County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for maintaining law and order throughout the county’s 471 square miles.

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Candidates for employment must have POST certification and no previous felony convictions. On average a patrol deputy will conduct 36,000 area checks per year.

Police Jobs in Missouri: City Departments

A college degree/college coursework or previous law enforcement or military experience is a general requirement to become a police officer in Missouri.

Kansas City Police Department

The Kansas City Police Department, which had its start back in 1874, employs a staff of more than 2,000, 1,400 of whom are sworn police officers. In addition to general patrol duties, police officers here have the opportunity to work in one of the department’s many specialized units, including a mounted patrol unit, a canine unit, a helicopter unit, and a bomb and arson unit.

Police officer candidates must pass an entrance examination which measures basic reading, math, and writing skills.

St Louis Police Department

The St. Louis Police Department is home to more than 400 civilian personnel and 1,300 sworn officers, all of whom are committed to community policing.

Officer candidates must have at least 30 college credits or be willing to attain such credits within two years after being hired.

Springfield Police Department

The Springfield Police Department is 362 sworn officers strong and serves a population of more than 167,000.

Police officer candidates must have the equivalent of an associate’s degree, certification from the Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), law enforcement experience, military service, or some combination of these.

Independence Police Department

The Independence Police Department, which consists of 203 commissioned police officers, is the proud sponsor of several community programs including DARE, the school resource officer program, and a child identification program.

A college degree or coursework in the subject of criminal justice is preferred for police officer candidates.

Columbia Police Department

The Operations Bureau of the Columbia Police Department is made up of a downtown unit, patrol division, community service aides, and a K-9 unit. The Columbia PD has an annual budget of $19 million and 174 sworn officers to serve and protect the city’s 122,000 citizens.

Education requirements for candidates include an associate’s degree or an equivalent amount of college credit.

Missouri Law Enforcement Salaries

The average salary for Missouri law enforcement officers was $56,610 as of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The following police/sheriff’s department salary data was sourced from May 2021 BLS stats (early career = 25th percentile, senior/late career = 90th percentile).

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Police Officer Salaries

The average, starting salary for police officers working for Missouri’s largest police departments is about $43,000. Salary rates for individual PDs are shown here:

Columbia Police Department

Columbia Police Department officers earn a starting salary of $46,840, a midpoint salary of $50,660, and a maximum salary of $74,840.

Jefferson City Police Department

Police officers with the Jefferson City Police Department earn an early career salary of about $38,000.

Kansas City Police Department

The police officers of the Kansas City Police Department earn a starting salary of $48,290. The top pay for police officers here is $83,640 and is achieved after 19 years of service.

Police officers can also earn specialty monthly stipend for positions like training officer, bilingual officer, or undercover officer.

Springfield Police Department

Springfield Police Department officers earn a salary of $37,770 in their early career.

St. Louis Police Department

Early career police officers with the St. Louis Police Department earn about $50,960.

Sheriff’s Deputy Salaries

The average, starting salary for sheriff’s deputies working in Missouri’s largest sheriff’s departments is $52,196 – nearly $12,000 more than the average starting salary among the state’s largest departments.

St. Charles County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy sheriffs with the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office earn between $52,184 and $77,285.

St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office

Officers with the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office earn a starting salary of $52,208, and then earn an additional $.80/hour annually, with the top pay of $77,168 achieved after 15 years of service.

State Trooper and State Police Salaries

Troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol earn a starting salary of $48,072.

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2022.

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