The Joplin Police Department auxiliary consists of 10 members who are supported by an advisor and various officers who assist with training needs. Members are individuals interested in law enforcement, at least 21 years of age, and hold no Joplin Police Department commission. Advisor Officer Lacey Baxter spends approximately five hours a week developing and overseeing training exercises and classroom lessons. The auxiliaries meet every Thursday evening for two to three hours. This program has led to the hiring of several officers for the Joplin Police Department, in addition to officers for the Carthage Police Department, McDonald County Sheriff’s Office, and Carl Junction Police Department. In addition, several members of the auxiliary are former members of the Joplin police explorers who wish to continue their training and involvement with the Joplin Police Department.
Much of the auxiliary’s meeting time is spent in training to help prepare the members for a future career in law enforcement. This training ranges from traffic stops and pursuits to note-taking and report writing. Auxiliaries are expected to perform their training tasks with the same confidence and professionalism as an officer on the street. After each exercise, the group gathers to discuss issues such as officer safety, tactics, and verbal communication. Members of the auxiliary have repeatedly mentioned that the training is an excellent way to help segue from academy cadet to officer in field training.
From Auxiliary to Officer
During the first few weeks of the MSSU law enforcement academy, a recruiting session is held for the cadets. In the past year, twelve of the auxiliaries have been academy cadets, several of which have eventually pursued a career in law enforcement. Citizens who contact the police department and express interest in becoming an officer are directed to the auxiliary as a first step in the path towards their career.
Auxiliaries assist the police department in directing traffic and parking cars at events such as Freedom Fest, Boomtown Days, and the Christmas parade. By volunteering their time, they earn ride-along privileges with Joplin police officers. In the weeks after the tornado in May, several members of the auxiliary dedicated their time to assisting officers with whatever tasks needed to be completed during the search and rescue and security phases.