The man who has been one of the faces of Centralia and Boone County public safety for more than a decade is taking a break.
Bob Bias, chief of the Centralia Police Department, former chief of the Hallsville Police Department and former Boone County Fire Protection District firefighter has told the Centralia Fireside Guard he will retire from the helm of the Centralia Police Department, effective October 10.
Centralia’s Board of Aldermen appointed him to the job, September 2018, from a pool of 11 applicants, to replace the city’s previous police chief Larry Dudgeon, who had served as chief of the CPD for 11 years.
Though on-the-record comments are scarce, the Bias’s announcement was preceded by a September 23 closed session of the Centralia Board of Aldermen.
According to the draft minutes of that meeting, no vote was taken.
Signs, four as of October 1, have been placed around Centralia, asking for Bias’s reinstatement and encouraging people to attend the October 11 meeting of Centralia’s Board of Aldermen.
Referring to the opinion of Cydney Mayfield, Centralia city attorney, Chris Cox Centralia mayor said he could offer only limited comment due to Mayfield’s opinion that he and the rest of the city staff are restricted by the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, AKA, the “Sunshine Law.”
He confirmed that Bias was retiring with severance.
“We offered and he has accepted a severance package,” Cox said.
Cox had previously voiced concerns regarding leadership at the CPD and had temporarily placed Bias on administrative leave for a few days in October 2019 while investigating the arrest of a former CPD officer by federal authorities. Afterward, Cox had told the Fireside Guard that Bias had been “completely exonerated.”
Bias also confirmed that, adding that he is tired, “it is time for a break, time to spend time with my grandchildren and look for a new direction in life. I am not sure what my future in law enforcement holds.”
At a scheduled protest, late Monday morning, October 4, where perhaps a dozen people attended, some holding signs asking for Bias’ reinstatement, people expressed dissatisfaction with the situation.
“That is a lie,” Jodie Roberts said as she stood in the city square park holding an orange sign calling for Bias’ reinstatement. “He did not retire. I don’t believe that for a second… I am concerned about our police department, their safety, our safety. We don’t need city officials running this town. We need the police department running this town. The police should be allowed to run their own department, not the people in city hall. I am just extremely disappointed.”
Another person on the square, Michael Bardwell, also shared his concern.
“I’ve been a citizen of Centralia for six years now. I see what’s going on and I’ve got nothing but respect for this police department.”
He said news of Bias’ impending departure: “was a shock, a total shock, it came out of left field. The majority of the people in this town were in the dark about it… To have this many people come out and support the chief, support the department, that speaks volumes.”
Bardwell said he did not know if the gathering would make a difference.
“I will leave that up to the powers-that-be,” he said. “I would rather let due process take its course… If something is wrong, be it on the chief’s side or the city council’s side we need answers for good or for bad. It is not a matter of laying the blame on one side or another. It’s getting to the bottom of it, we will deal with who is responsible later. That’s going to be saved for the city council meeting coming up the 11th.”
Among the volumes spoken were conversations on social media directed at Heather Russell, Centralia city administrator, critiquing how funds from the city police and fire fighters’ tax has been spent as well as the number of full-time officers currently on the force.
She addressed those, as well as the plans for CPD administration in an emailed memo addressed to ‘Concerned Citizens.”
It says, in part:
“We are currently looking to appoint an Interim Chief from internal candidates from the Centralia Police Department. Officers have been notified that if they would like to be considered for this position to send their information by Wednesday, October 6, 2021. The lieutenant should be the obvious choice, but from conversations with him prior to the Chief’s resignation, the lieutenant indicated to me that he did not want to be in that position again. Out of respect of those conversations, it has not been assumed that he wished fill in as interim chief.
A recruitment package has been developed and once approved internally will be posted publicly to begin recruitment of a new Chief of Police. The City hesitates to hire new officers in the interim simply because we feel that the new Chief may be interested in hiring for those positions himself. We currently have 8 full-time officers, which is the amount we had in 2018-19. The chief will be the 9th officer and a new hire shortly there-after will be the 10th so that our department will be fully staffed once again.
I have had conversations with several officers and dispatchers in the police department over the past couple of days, and they have indicated to me that there will be a continuation of the quality services that our citizens deserve. These officers have said that serving the community is their top priority and they will honor their commitment. As with all departments of the City of Centralia, administration included, our priority is providing essential, quality services to our citizens. We will continue to make every effort to hold true to our commitment.”
Editor’s note: This is the entire memo —
2018-2019 Annual Budget:
2019-2020 Annual Budget:
2020-2021 Annual Budget:
2021-2022 Annual Budget:
The City’s fiscal year runs from April 1st – March 31st each year.
Public Safety Sales Tax
This tax was passed in 2018 and collection began in April 2019. The initial split was 75% to
the Police and 25% to the Fire. The entire Public Safety Sales Tax was budgeted at $205,000
and only received $163,134 in this fund, but still provided additional police staffing that first
The City held off hiring the additional 2 officers at the beginning of fiscal year 2019-20 to
bring our sworn full-time officer total from 8 to 10 because we were unsure how much
money would be generated from this sales tax. However, two new officers were appointed
full-time: Logan Feger on 5/1/2019 and Zach Foltz on 5/29/2019. The staff count remained at
10 until July 2020.
July 2020 the City was experiencing a lot of uncertainty, along with the rest of the world, due
to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many forecasts were calling for a 10% – 25% decrease in sales tax
dollars, which meant that cities were scrambling to keep up with current budget projections.
All large projects, except for the water treatment plant upgrades because that project is
funded by the Missouri Department of Revenue State Revolving Funds, ceased until the 4th
quarter of the calendar year 2020 (which is the 3rd quarter of our fiscal year) because of this
uncertainty. The 4th quarter happens to be in the winter, and we determined it was best for
our crews to hold off on the animal facility upgrades until the following year (2021). This
projected tax shortage was discussed during open forum on May 8, 2020. The meeting
packet with a memo from me outlining the projections is available here:
The Board of Aldermen agreed to a reduction in force (RIF) that was City-wide. We did not
replace a member of the electric department that had left, and eliminated one position each
at City Hall, the Police Department, and Dispatch.
Revenues fared better than expected or projected during 2020, and we were able to hire for
the positions in the electric department, the police department, and dispatch. We still have
not yet replaced the full-time position at City hall and have been essentially running shortstaffed
since July 2020.
The CPD portion of the public safety sales tax is to provide those two new positions. With
salary and benefits, the cost is over $100,000.
In the 2021-22 budget, the Board decided to split the public safety sales tax money
differently. We now put 10% off the top into an account to accumulate money to purchase
equipment. The cost of a fire truck can be anywhere from $500,000 – $1M, so planning is
essential. Since we are now splitting the remaining 90% of the budgeted amount 50/50
between the Fire and Police, this takes up all the public safety sales tax money allotted to the
PD for the two additional positions. It’s also important to keep in mind that City employees
are on a 4-year plan to receive 5% pay increases, which increases the cost of paying those
two additional employees.
The fire department has ordered and should be receiving self-contained breathing apparatus
(SCBA) equipment within the next few months. This purchase was approved in December
2020, and we applied for a grant to help off-set the costs but did not receive the grant. The
Board re-approved the purchase in May 2021 in the amount of about $134,000. The agenda
packet can be found here: https://towncloud.io/go/centralia-mo/agendas/41
We purchased new turn-out gear for all firefighters on 3/31/2020 in the amount of
Public Safety Budget
There is a summary provided in the 2021-22 budget that outlines the annual budget for all
public safety on page 33. The FY2018-19 public safety budget was $930,829.
The CPD budget went over their budgeted allowances in FY2019-20 by $37,383, and under in
FY2020-21 by $52,444. The under-budget amount in FY2020-21 is partially because the
animal holding facility was not completed in FY2020-21 and was budgeted again in FY2021-
22. However, we did purchase a new animal control vehicle in FY2020-21 as promised.
The animal holding facility is still in the budget for the current fiscal year. To keep the project
within budget with rising construction costs, we are utilizing assistance from other city
departments. There is a floor plan for the project, but we are still looking making it work
within the budgeted amount of $43,000.
The overall budget for the CPD in the current year is $51,025 more than last year. This
included replacing 4 old police cars with 3 brand new SUV’s.
Please note: The CPD budget is prepared in cooperation with the Chief of Police and his
Lieutenant. All needs, wants, and wishes are discussed, and we develop this budget together
to present it to the Board of Aldermen. There are several budget meetings throughout the
year that are held between department heads to make sure the next year’s budget is
reflective of what the department needs.
Below is a copy of that summary:
PUBLIC SAFETY PROGRAM
Police Protection Subtotal 980,414 1 ,017,797 984,762 932,318 1 ,035,787
Training 120,722 139,217 154,222 127,345 162,777
212 Patrol/Law Enforcement 602,015 591,855 503,520 546,086 638,442
Support 242,902 264,179 258,627 229,954 215,138
214 Building & Grounds 14,225 22,546 24,007 19,435 9,950
215 School Resource Officer 550 – 44,386 9,499 9,480
Fire Protection Subtotal 170,440 146,035 189,640 8 9,104 205,800
Training 11,750 1 3,992 1 9,140 6,671 2 0,000
222 Fire Fighting 147,990 125,024 159,550 75,424 175,850
224 Building & Grounds 10,700 7,018 10,950 7,010 9,950
Protective Inspection Subtotal 28,750 2 2,507 2 3,250 3 5,343 3 7,100
Building, Health and
Safety Inspct 28,750 2 2,507 2 3,250 3 5,343 3 7,100
Emergency Management Subtotal 6 14 – 8 91 1,066 700
ns 6 14 – 8 91 1,066 700
Other Public Safety Subtotal 70,056 4 5,959 9 5,175 6 1,698 100,802
251 Rabies/Animal Control 49,904 27,825 74,077 45,133 72,303
Weed, Nuisance & Pest
Control 20,152 1 8,133 2 1,098 1 6,566 2 8,498
PUBLIC SAFETY TOTAL $ 1,250,274 $ 1,232,298 $ 1,293,718 $ 1,119,531 $ 1,380,188
Plan Moving Forward:
We are currently looking to appoint an Interim Chief from internal candidates from the
Centralia Police Department. Officers have been notified that if they would like to be
considered for this position to send their information by Wednesday, October 6, 2021. The
Lieutenant should be the obvious choice, but from conversations with him prior to the
Chief’s resignation, the Lieutenant indicated to me that he did not want to be in that position
again. Out of respect of those conversations, it has not been assumed that he wished fill in as
A recruitment package has been developed and once approved internally will be posted
publicly to begin recruitment of a new Chief of Police. The City hesitates to hire new officers
in the interim simply because we feel that the new Chief may be interested in hiring for
those positions himself. We currently have 8 full-time officers, which is the amount we had in
2018-19. The Chief will be the 9th officer and a new hire shortly there-after will be the 10th so
that our department will be fully staffed once again.
I have had conversations with several officers and dispatchers in the police department over
the past couple of days, and they have indicated to me that there will be a continuation of
the quality services that our citizens deserve. These officers have said that serving the
community is their top priority and they will honor their commitment. As with all
departments of the City of Centralia, administration included, our priority is providing
essential, quality services to our citizens. We will continue to make every effort to hold true
to our commitment.