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Joplin Police Union Organizes PAC Fund for City Council Election - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Police Union Organizes PAC Fund for City Council Elections

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Joplin, MO -

Joplin police union gets more involved in local politics this year by adding financial donations to its endorsements.  The police union is changing its strategy for its donation fund, after giving money to state candidates for some time now.

The PAC fund is for Joplin police officers and will be funded by part of their paychecks.

"Just like with any politics, it's a gamble," says Shelby Howard, President of the Joplin Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27.

Howard says that gamble is well worth taking; not just verbal or written endorsements anymore, but financial donations towards City Council candidates.

"So that maybe we could have a little more influence, maybe seek more candidacy on our behalf," says Howard.

Earlier this year, some members of the police union felt Joplin's city manager was trying to censor JPD's "incident spotlight" reports on Facebook.  The police union also feels City Hall needs to better prioritize its budget to make police and firefighters' pay more competitive, increasing retention rates.

"I think we need that more open line of communication so everybody is aware of the issues at hand," says Howard.

"You've had some City Council members, I've served with many, who feel like the police and fire is just part of the City and they should not be given any more accolades than the bookkeeper or the grass cutter," says Joplin City Councilman Jim West.

West has been endorsed several times by the police union over the course of his 17-year experience on City Council.

"You can cut accounting.  You can cut the grass cutter.  But an ambulance driver, or a police officer, or a fireman, those are people you make your way to make sure it's right," says West.

"When they see our name associated with a candidate, hopefully they'll understand that there's a reason why we've backed them," says Howard.  "In theory, they will stand up for us, and in standing up for us they will stand up for that candidate we've endorsed."

Joplin's police union plans on meeting individually with all 11 City Council candidates in early March.

Joplin's election for City Council is April 3rd.  The Joplin police and fire unions will not tell people to not vote for a candidate.  The unions plan on just not endorsing certain candidates.

So far, officers have committed a total of $160 per pay period to the PAC fund.  That money will continue to be withdrawn from their paychecks until members want it stopped.  Union members expect more contributions.  If members want their donations to continue past this upcoming election, the funds will be applied to future elections or political issues.  

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