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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
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
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
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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