Springfield police adds 11 new officers

Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf addresses the city’s newest 11 officers, seated in the front row, that were sworn in Monday at the City Hall Forum. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf addresses the city’s newest 11 officers, seated in the front row, that were sworn in Monday at the City Hall Forum. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield police added 11 new officers to the division Monday morning as city leaders continue to try to bring the longtime low-staffed department to full strength.

Four of the new officers are women. They represent the largest female class the Springfield Police Division has ever had in its 150-year history, Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said.

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All 11 officers completed 17 weeks of training before being sworn in, Graf said.

“These new officers have a lot to learn about Springfield and the community and policing this community but at the same time they are going to exchange ideas with the officers they are working with so we are basically going to grow together,” Graf said.

The hiring of the new officers is part of the continued work by the city to grow the department, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. The division doesn’t pay as well as others in the region, Copeland said, although the city is working to build packages for officers so the division can compete for talent.

Adding to the recent challenges, a number of Springfield officers have retired over the last couple years, Copeland said.

“I’m glad to see (the new officers) but we need to keep it happening,” Copeland said. “We had a number of people retire out so we need to keep going.”

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Springfield residents approved an income tax last year to help pay for new officers and the creation of a safe street task force to combat drug trafficking.

“This is a part of our effort to staff up the police department as a part of the levy campaign. We promised to add officers and to create a safe street task force and we need to be at full staffing to do that,” he said. “And welcoming a number this morning will really help us do that.”

The new officers have diverse backgrounds, Graf said. Their experiences include police work, college degrees, military backgrounds and EMT training, Graf said.

That diversity in the background, it brings a lot of tools to the table. We naturally learn from each other,” Graf said.

In November, the department told this news organization they were about two dozen officers short of full staffing. It’s a priority to bring more officers into the fold, Graf said.

“Our manpower has been a little bit low and this is a big start to keep our promises to our community about getting our department at full strength,” Graff said.

EXTRA: Graf sworn in as Springfield’s new Chief of Police

The new officers must complete a 13-week in-house training course where they will work every shift before being allowed to patrol the streets on their own, Graf said.

Jessica Moore is one of the new officers. She said getting the job is special. She hopes to help children in her new role.

“I want to be interactive with kids in the community and be a good role model for them,” she said.

The officers transferring from other departments and joining Springfield are Matthew Haytas, Jeffrey Perilman, Joshua Rayburn. The new officers are Holly Shaw, Holly Lytle, Randall Hawley Jr., Moore, Christopher Slusser, Cody King, Ashley Yannekis and Jacob Burrell.

Copeland said the division is still trying to hire more officers, so anyone interested is encouraged to apply with the city.

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