Jefferson County Sheriff’s Dept. helping to fill vacancies in De Soto police force

DE SOTO, Mo. – The City of De Soto needs help staffing its police department so the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department is stepping in after the city reached out.

De Soto asked for the sheriff’s department’s help on Tuesday. Now there is a notice posted on De Soto city hall for an emergency city council meeting Friday.

The De Soto Police Department provides service to about 6400 residents. About a year ago, the De Soto police chief resigned in an effort to get better pay for officers. This week, the new chief resigned and the city attorney said they had multiple other officers resign this month. That’s why they reached out to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department for some help.

Jefferson County Capt. Gary Higginbotham said he’ll put a full-time lieutenant in the city starting Friday.

Higginbotham said De Soto doesn’t have many senior officers, so they are helping out with the leadership role right now but if they lose more officers they may have to assist with units as well.

Higginbotham said he doesn’t know where the problem in the De Soto Police Department stems from but they seem to have a hard time retaining officers.

“They do have a lot of young officers. Their turnover rate was, I believe, 200 percent in the past two years and it is hard to run a department that way,” Higginbotham said.

He said there wasn’t any talk of the county completely taking over the De Soto Police Department but it remained a possibility. At present, they aren’t charging the city anything for their assistance but that could change once they figure out how much assistance in needed and for how long.