Exeter hires police chief
Struble hired on 30-day probationary period
The city of Exeter recently hired a new police chief in Morgan Struble, a 26-year-old from Shell Knob.
Struble was appointed by Mayor Rusty Reed in early July. He began his duties on July 8 and was approved by the city council on July 9 on a 30-day probationary period.
"I was very surprised and excited," he said. "This is my first time as a chief or in a supervisor position, but I'm a quick learner, so I think I'll have everything covered."
Three applied for the position with the city, including Struble, former officer Willie Stephens, of Exeter, and Michael Schreiner, of Butler County.
Five residents of Exeter attended the July city council meeting in support of hiring Stephens, but city aldermen elected to go in a different direction.
Rhonda Scott, Exeter alderwoman, said a number of factors played into the city's decision to hire Struble.
"There were several things that went into it," she said. "We felt he's a new face, and that would be good, and he has experience, and we got a good reference from the police chief where he worked in Reeds Spring."
Scott said although residents showed up in support of Stephens, who was police chief from 2009 to 2013, his past employment played a role in the city's decision not to hire him.
"Willie has been the police chief once and he chose to quit," she said. "So, we felt a new face would be good for us."
One of the residents in attendance expressed concerns about Struble living so far from the city when issues may occur in overnight hours, and Scott said the aldermen considered that issue.
"We did talk about that, but he's more than willing to do the hours we are interested in having him for and it won't be a problem," she said. "We always have the Barry County Sheriff's Department in the case of an emergency, and that's who we recommend people call late at night.
"Even if we had someone in Exeter, there's no guarantee they'd be available 24/7 because they do have time off."
Struble attended the academy in Nebraska before moving to Missouri and joining the Reeds Spring Police Department in November 2013 as a part-time and reserve officer. Struble is still a reserve officer in Reeds Spring and works there one to two days out of each month.
He said he's excited for the opportunity in Exeter, and he hopes to stay for a while.
"I will stay as long as they'll allow me," he said. "I hope to improve things where they need it and maintain areas that are doing well. I have an open door policy, so anyone with questions or concerns can call the department or come in and see me."
Struble is replacing Marion Jacobson, who resigned June 14 to take a job outside of law enforcement. Jacobson was hired after Stephens left the position in August 2013.
A full-time employee, Struble will be paid $10 per hour, an annual salary of $20,800.