Missouri City held a second special confer meeting on May 31 to establish a tentative agreement on contract terms for Missouri City police officers and those interested in applying to the police department.

According to the special confer counsel, which consists of Missouri City City Council members and Missouri City Police Department officers, eligibility standards for applicants were reviewed to establish reasonable requirements for applicants who wish to take the entrance examination while attracting desperately needed new applicants.

The special confer counsel has been meeting weekly since April 19 to find solutions to some of the issues the MCPD has been facing, such as officer shortages. Each meeting has been focusing on different aspects of the police department's recruiting, testing and pay.

This review comes at a time when the MCPD is in need of more employees regardless of a salary increase established earlier in May. Starting salaries for police officers were raised 17% from $55,580 to $65,237, placing them second among salaries in Fort Bend County, according to Missouri City council agenda documents.

Establishing these new testing standards aims to ensure the quality of potential employees without discouraging applicants from considering Missouri City, according to the special confer counsel.

”We are trying to convince more high-quality applicants to come here,” said Sergeant Jay McClellan, vice president of the Missouri City Police Officers Association. “When we have as many vacancies as we currently have, we are constantly recruiting.”

The MCPD is experiencing a 17% shortage of officers and is not in the position to overlook or turn away candidates, according to a previous report from Community Impact.

The focus on organizing an applicant list by certified applicants versus noncertified applicants was a significant focus of the confer team.

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement-certified applicants are applicants who have previously passed a state-regulated comprehensive exam. Uncertified applicants still need to pass a TCOLE examination and require, at minimum, an eight-month training term, including time at the police academy, according to the TCOLE website.

Missouri City needs officers immediately, McClellan said, and it needs more certified applicants who can begin working within two weeks rather than eight months.

"We should add language that requires the department to exhaust the list of certified candidates before pursuing noncertified candidates," said Greg Cagle, regional attorney for the Texas Municipal Police Association.

Citizens can anticipate a continued focus from the city on gaining more applicants and potential officers to join the police force, according to the special confer counsel.

"We're working to fix hiring issues that we currently have; two more people are scheduled to leave the agency, which creates a hardship for us," McClellan said.