ST. CHARLES, Mo. ( -- On Saturday, 60 potential new officers completed a physical fitness test as part of the application process to join St. Charles City Police Department. They’re competing for just over a dozen positions.

Nationwide there is a police recruitment crisis, departments all over are reporting low numbers of applicants, but in the city of St. Charles they had the most applicants in years.

“Our technology, our innovation, our reputation,” Sgt. Shawn Holeston said of the reasons applicants are flocking to St. Charles.

It’s also one the best paying departments in the area.

“An officer that starts at our department will make about $58,000 a year and they’ll top out at $83,00 a year. Officers with experience can start in $60s, even $70s,” he said.

Compare that to St. Louis City, officers starting out will make $47,815 for the first 11 months and then it jumps to $49,140. The city is currently down 149 officers, according to a department spokesperson. To attempt to fill the need, the city is looking to remove the residency requirement.

In Jefferson County, deputies start off making $50,300. Residency is only required for officers with take-home cars.

St. Louis County Police Department is currently down 50 officers. A job posting on their website says full time officers can make between $52,208 and $77,168.

In St. Charles County, they just filled all of their open positions. A spokesperson said the applicant pool was lower than in past years. Their officers start off around $56,000.

Sgt. Holeston in the city of St. Charles says of their applicants, about half are coming straight from the Academy and half are veteran officers. He says the thing they hear often is the officers are looking for better pay and benefits.

A spokesperson for the city of St. Louis said they understand they are on the lower end of the pay scale and that is something they are looking into. City voters overwhelming passed Prop P to give officers raises in 2017, but other departments have also passed similar propositions.

"Residency is just one piece of the puzzle, we are in negotiations with the unions and hope to be able to make some announcements on that end this spring on pay and benefits,” said Jacob Long, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office.

When the city attempted to waive the residency requirement for 50 applicants, only a few took advantage.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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