Riverboat officer shortage leads to fewer arrests

Sunday, September 29, 2002

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. -- The Missouri Gaming Commission blames a shortage in officers for a nearly 25 percent decrease in arrests at state casinos. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says it doesn't have enough officers for the roads, let alone the boats.

At the Gaming Commission's meeting Friday in St. Charles County, executive director Kevin Mullally said riverboat casinos are short several dozen patrol officers, severely limiting the ability to prevent and cover crimes.

From July 1, 2001, through June 30 of this year, 1,273 arrests were made, down nearly 25 percent. Mullally attributed the drop to the shortage of officers.

Patrol Lt. Tim Hull said more than 100 officers have resigned in the past three years for better paying jobs with the federal government and in the private sector.

A rookie trooper makes about $31,000 a year. After 10 years, troopers earn just under $40,000.

Hull said 750 officers are left on the force, with 91 assigned to the Gaming Commission.

"We're probably approaching 80 or 90 officers short on the road," Hull said. "I would call it a concern."

Hull said he can assign up to 128 officers to the Gaming Commission.

Officers volunteer for boat assignments. The 11 casinos reimburse the state for the salaries, benefits and cars of officers working on the boats.

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