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El Dorado Springs Police Department - photo

The history of the El Dorado Springs Police Department dates back to the very founding of the town in the late 1800’s. Early City Council minutes refer to a town marshal. There is another reference to the “Night Watch” when the duty of watching for fires was added during the night tour of duty.

It is not until 1964 that the town marshal system was abolished and the current police chief system was installed. On January 6, 1964, the City Council unanimously passed Ordinance Number 998 establishing a merit system police department. This was an important step forward in the establishment of a professional police force.

Today’s police department is vastly different from the days of town marshal. The duties and responsibilities have become much more complex than checking for locked doors and watching for fires. As the duties and responsibilities have increased so has the knowledge and skill levels required of officers. In the early days, there were no minimum training requirements for officers with most appointments being political. Today, in the State of Missouri, a person aspiring to be a police officer must successfully complete a minimum 600-hour training program at an academy that is certified by the State of Missouri. The individual can expect to spend at least four months and anywhere from four to six thousand dollars of their own money to become a certified peace officer.

In the old days, the marshal was on duty only during the night. Today, the El Dorado Springs Police Department provides law enforcement services on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Also, the number of the other agencies the department interacts with is greatly expanded. Today, it is not unusual to have frequent contact with the Cedar County Sheriff, surrounding county sheriffs and other municipal police departments, Highway Patrol, FBI, Cedar County Prosecutor, Cedar County coroner, Juvenile Office, Probation and Parole and the Division of Aging and Family Services. Contacts with all of these agencies are growing more frequent and complex. It is not uncommon for an officer to go on a domestic disturbance call and be tied up for up to three hours because of the requirements to bring in some of these agencies. This ties up the officer and keeps them off the street.

As the complexity of the job has changed so have the training requirements. Laws are more complex and difficult to interpret. Court interpretations of laws add another layer of information the officer must be familiar with. All this means more and more emphasis on training and education. Officers must continue attending training sessions and seminars on a constant basis.

Another area that has changed dramatically is communications. Not that long ago in El Dorado Springs, a police officer would stop at a call box at the Park Hotel once every hour to get any calls from the dispatcher. If there was an emergency, the dispatcher would call the radio station to broadcast a call to the officer. This system was in use as recently as the late sixties. Of course today’s officers have instant radio contact with the dispatcher in the Police Station. The 911 system allows access to police, fire and emergency medical personnel in a matter of minutes, not only for the City of El Dorado Springs but the entire 876 phone prefix. Additionally, the communications center dispatches for the City Taxi Service during the day.

Another dramatic improvement in law enforcement and our local department has been the development of computer systems. Locally, our department is very dependent on the usage of computers in all aspects of the job. In the near future, communications and report writing will be done from in-car computers. This is already being done in many areas of the nation.

Another aspect of the Police Department is the Animal Control and Code Enforcement functions. Assigned to the Police Department a number of years ago, this job is a full-time need in the community. We have our own licensed kennel as required by state law and many animals are picked up yearly. The Animal Control officer works 40 hours per week on animal, weeds, junk vehicles and nuisance calls.

The current police department has four full-time dispatchers and eight certified officers including the Chief of Police providing twenty-four hour service.

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135 W. Spring Street, El Dorado Springs, MO 64744 Phone: 417-876-2521 Fax: 417-876-4320
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