Study finds Missouri, Arkansas below average in law enforcement pay

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:37 PM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - A recent study into the quality of law enforcement careers by state shows Missouri and Arkansas below average in several indicating categories, including average officer pay.

The study, conducted by personal-finance website WalletHub, looked at over 30 factors to determine its rankings, such as quality of work environment, police friendliness, average law enforcement deaths per 1000 officers, and others.

Regarding average officer pay: Missouri ranks 35th while Arkansas came in at 49th. According to Forbes, in Arkansas, the average salary of a member of law enforcement is $40,570.

“Well, obviously, money is important to raise a family and survive,” said Harrison Police Chief Chris Graddy. “But let us look at the cost of living; sure, I could go to a large city and make more money. We have a lot better quality of life in a rural community than you do in a larger city.”

Chief Graddy understands the importance of law enforcement pay and its role in keeping the department staffed. But he says that officers with Harrison Police Department don’t work there solely for the income.

”My guys are saying we need more money, but go next door to the fire department,” he explained. “You’re not going to pay me enough to go into a burning building. It’s not my calling. Just like most people not going to go the sound of gunshots.”

He says a large portion of the department is from the area and invested in the community. That’s true with four-year patrolman Kenneth Breger, who grew up near Lead Hill.

“Somebody has to do this job, and the people that do it, we love what we do,” said Breger. “That plays a big part. You gotta love your job. You gotta love helping people.”

For Breger, the role he serves goes beyond the dollar figure he receives.

”The community is great. They always have our back. Neighbors are always helping neighbors,” he said. “As a kid, you think I’d like to be a cop? That sounds really cool. But once you actually do the job, you fall in love with it.”

Although the legislature has made efforts to address the issue.

”The state recognized that this past year and approved the $5,000 stipend for all officers,” said Chief Graddy. “That’s encouraging, but yes, we still need to work to get our salaries up. The job they do can and often is dangerous.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved the one-time $5,000 in March, which applies to all officers at the local level. Also, in doing so, the state increased the starting pay for Arkansas State Troopers to $54,000.

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