New law requires departing St. Louis police officers repay training costs

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed the measure in law authorizing the director of the department of public safety or the police commissioner to enter into agreements regarding reimbursement.

Updated: March 25, 2022 - 10:45pm

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Officers leaving the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to work for another municipality within two years of completing academy training must repay a portion of $36,983 in training costs.

Board Bill 195, signed into law Thursday by St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, authorizes the director of the department of public safety or the police commissioner to enter into agreements regarding reimbursement for the cost of training. Officers who resign or are terminated within 48 months after the beginning of training at the academy and accept employment with any other law enforcement agency within 12 months must repay a prorated amount of the training costs.

"St. Louisans want to know that when their tax dollars and our city's academy are used to train police officers that they will stay to serve our city, not go elsewhere," Jones said in a statement announcing the new law. "Other cities try to recruit officers trained at our academy; if surrounding municipalities want to take advantage of St. Louis' academy and resources, they'll have to pay for it."

The ordinance states the city pays all costs and expenses related to the trainee's attendance at the academy. The repayment cost is capped at $36,983 and includes the trainee's salary and benefits, fees, tuition and training materials.

"It is important for us to work to retain the officers we have on hand, while incentivizing the great work that they do to encourage other individuals to step up and do such a thankless job," Alderman Brandon Bosley, sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

Jones highlighted the results of alternative policing programs in the media release announcing the repayment policy. The "Cops and Clinicians" program sends a licensed clinical social worker with a police officer to provide immediate mental health services and other social services. During the first eight months of the program, the city reported 95% of approximately 5,000 calls of individuals in crisis were diverted from arrest and connected to services. The estimated savings in police and emergency medical services was $2.2 million in 2021.

The media release didn't include the St. Louis Police Officers Association but did include a statement from the leader of the Ethical Society of Police, an organization of African American law enforcement officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Louis County Police Department.

"The police training offered in the City of St. Louis should benefit St. Louis, not other municipalities looking to hire officers from our academy," Sgt. Donnell Walters, president of the Ethical Society of Police, said. "This law will help prevent other departments in our area from taking advantage of our city's resources."