On Monday, the 2020 city budget was almost unanimously approved and that includes the addition of six new officers to the Missoula Police Department. Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh says these new officers will be filling a couple of different needs.

“Three of the officers are to address staffing issues that existed prior to annexation,” Welsh said. “We are seeing an increased number of calls requiring multiple officers to respond. They are taking more time and the nature of the calls are more serious. The other three officers are designated to help respond to the newly annexed areas in the city.”

The newly approved city budget allocates close to $580,000 for the department. Welsh explained how MPD determined the amount of money in the budget to increase the authorized personnel by six.

“The salary is based on the current cost per our collective bargaining agreement for a rookie officer,” Welsh said. “Other expenses include overtime such as court testimony, report completions, etc. The cost of a uniform and the cost of initial training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy are also included. Then you have the cost of operating supplies like body-worn cameras, portable breath testers and handheld radios. Of course, computer software has to figure in for each individual user as well.”

According to Welsh, MPD already has a pool of recruits to hire these additional officers. They have not picked the new officers yet, but that process has already started. They will have testing on Saturday to begin recruiting the next round of candidates.