© 2022 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Too Easy To Qualify For Sheriff In Missouri, Sheriffs Say

Cape Girardeau Co. Sheriff John Jordan.JPG
Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Sheriffs from around Missouri want state lawmakers to tighten the requirements needed to become a county’s sheriff.

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan (R) told a State House committee today that the only current requirements for potential candidates are that they are “breathing,” and can pay the $50 filing fee.  He wants lawmakers to craft legislation that would require sheriff’s candidates to have prior law enforcement experience.

“You should at minimum, before filing, be a certified police officer," Jordan said.  "We're merely saying that you need to take about five months of your life and become qualified to be a law enforcement officer who understands the constitution and the civil rights that you’re gonna so much safeguard for the individuals you serve -- to do anything less, to me, is just insanity.”

Other sheriffs testified about what they described as the growing cost of taking care of both county inmates and state prisoners in their custody – including medical costs.  Henry County Sheriff Kent Oberkrom (R) currently heads the Missouri Sheriff’s Association.  He says the number of county jail inmates is growing in Missouri, as is the cost of meals and medical care for those locked up.

“Most of us are not seeing decreases in our crime rates in our counties," Oberkrom said.  "The system’s getting bogged down, so there’s more inmates kind of stagnant in the system, sitting in jails typically, those that can’t post bond, and they’re sitting there for longer periods of time.”

The House Interim Committee on Operations of the Office of Sheriff is expected to recommend new bills before the start of next year’s regular session.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.