NEOSHO, MO.--- Officer Brad Fienen has been with the Neosho Police Department for the past 4 years. He was one of the few kept on the force, after extreme budget cuts plagued the entire city government.
"Our work load went up at least double," states Brad Fienen, Neosho Police Department.
"We went from 26 officers to 11 officers in the matter of a stroke of a pen, so to speak," states Chief Dave McCracken, Neosho Police Department.
Police Chief Dave McCracken says as man power decreased, crime rates increased.
"We just didn't have the people out there to patrol and we had to hit the more well traveled areas rather than the residential areas," says Chief McCracken.
City leaders believe the officers who stayed with the department showed dedication to the city.
"Because there was an opportunity at a point in time to leave. We were making cuts, the prognosis and future of Neosho was uncertain," states Richard Davidson, Neosho Mayor.
For almost 3 years, the city council and police chief have been working to regain the necessary number of staff members. After 2 recent hires, the department will have a total of 20 employees.
"We're now seeing the benefits of making tough decisions, monitoring the finances, and making sure we do what is right for the tax payers of Neosho," says Mayor Davidson.
McCracken will now be able to promote an officer to detective, as opposed to patrolmen handling investigations when they have the time. He believes morale is improving for the department and the entire city.
"There's a lot less concern about officer safety, about citizen safety, our ability to respond to calls in a timely manor," states Chief McCracken.
Fienen says he feels safer knowing there are more officers watching his back as he patrols the streets.
"Anytime you have more police presence in a town, it makes the crime go down. I mean, it helps. People see us out there a lot more," says Fienen.
The Newton County Sheriff's Office has been helping out with investigations while the department was short handed. Chief McCracken believes the police department will be able to keep hiring more officers every year until they are back at full staff.