Letter to the Editor

PB Police Dept. is one of stateís best

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Poplar Bluff Police Department is one of the most highly regarded small town agencies in the state. This did not happen overnight or by chance. It is the result of superb leadership within the department, city administrators and extremely dedicated and talented personnel.

Law enforcement is a professional career. It is like many other professions, you have to be trained, educated and possess a license (Missouri Police Officer Standards Training) just to apply for an entry level position.

The requirements continue to increase and many departments will not consider you without a college degree in criminal justice or related field. Some departments require you to attend their police academy. Most of the Poplar Bluff officers are college graduates.

Several current and former officers are graduates of the prestigious FBI National Academy, which is a three month long rigourous mental and physical training academy of Quantico, Virginia. Only a select few in the nation are ever tapped to attend and the waiting list is long.

Many Poplar Bluff officers serve with multi-jurisdictional agencies and have been trained at locations all over this country. A small sampling of their expert training includes; domestic terrorism, bomb detection and dismantling, cyber crimes, homicide investigation, sex crimes investigation, firearms use and repair to include sniper training, weapons of mass destruction, school resource officers, community policing, S.W.A.T. training and K-9 handlers. The list is never ending and is always expanding.

Furthermore, many of these officers are elite trained and combat proven veterans of the Unites States military.

Chief Danny Whiteley is nationally known and highly respected. He is very well educated, experienced and has impeccable credentials. He has established hundreds of working relationships with federal organizations that have and will continue to respond to Poplar Bluff when requested. He is also a graduate of numerous state and federal training programs.

I joined the PBPD in the summer of 1978, having transferred from another southeast Missouri police department at the exact same salary. Why move? The City of Poplar Bluff offered me a much better benefit package, to include health insurance for me and my young family during my tenure and after retirement.

I already had served in the United States Army both in this country and southeast Asia and was trained as a military police officer. Additionally, I had received basic and advanced training at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Law Enforcement training academy in Jefferson City.

I could have gone elsewhere had I chosen. Over the years the pay at Poplar Bluff increased and the benefits grew. Thirty years later I retired and am proud to have served the citizens of our community.

Missouriís premier law enforcement agency, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, has issues recruiting and retaining personnel due to lower salary levels than other large agencies. Their pay and benefits are much better compared to Poplar Bluff. At one point in low wages and poor benefits. Just to mention a few, numerous officers to Springfield, Mo. PD. Two retired as supervisors and one was the deputy police chief, two to California, one to LAPD and another to a large metro area PD. Several former officers have moved to the St. Louis and Kansas City areas and have had great careers. There have been several others leave. In the late 80s the situation was finally corrected.

Without salary and benefit increases that situation could repeat itself. Other departments would love to have these highly trained and experienced officers. Some have tried to recruit current employees. The Poplar Bluff Police Department is a jewel that continues to shine.

Poplar Bluff is constantly growing and thriving. Many tax dollars have been spent to train, equip and field our professionals. Please safeguard our wonderful community and insure our childrenís future by compensating our officers accordingly.

Also, they need to operate out of a professionally designed police department located on Shelby Road - a police department structure that this city and its citizens can be proud of.

Respectfully submitted,

Lt. (Ret) C.A. (Tony) Wallace Sr.