By Don Lowe • Photos by Mandy Edmonson
The way Webb City, Missouri, Chief of Police Donald E. Melton sees things, it’s rather simple what makes this work rewarding daily: “I am blessed to be able to provide for my family by working in a profession and community I truly enjoy and adore.”
Chief Melton also says, “I am thankful for the opportunities I have been provided in Webb City.”
Chief Melton feels right at home in this Jasper County town of about 13,000 residents as all but two of his 28 total years in law enforcement have been with the Webb City Police Department.
As he leads WCPD, Chief Melton says the most important job of law enforcement “is to provide firm, yet compassionate application of the laws and ordinances we are sworn to uphold.”
In going about the day-to-day work, Chief Melton explains, “I have tried to instill in our officers that, although the call for service they’re going on may not be the most exciting on that day, each call for service is the most important call that caller will make that day.
“They are calling for help with something the officer may feel is routine. But it is the most significant call that the person may ever make.”
Of course, there are difficulties in this job. Interestingly, though, what Chief Melton finds most challenging right now “is finding qualified applicants to fill shortages within our department.
“It is an employee’s market, and the atmosphere for working in law enforcement is more challenging today than it was 20-plus years ago. That is why I’m beyond thankful for our men and women who have chosen to serve the Webb City community.”
Despite whatever demands come along, Chief Melton says, “Webb City is not so large we are able to effect change on a local level that is visible, not only to our department members but also to the public.”
Chief Melton understands the importance of equipping his team with everything at their disposal for premium job performance, and he stresses, “Within the department, I have helped provide our officers with tools to make their jobs safer and more efficient.
“We’ve added body cameras for every uniformed officer, take-home cars for officers, laptop computers, computer tablets in each patrol vehicle and e-Citation software.”
Additionally, Chief Melton says officers have been provided with “departmental-issued equipment, such as duty weapons, tasers, increased protection wearable ballistic armor and ballistic shields for more dangerous situations, along with LED emergency lights for increased visibility during emergency responses or traffic warnings.”
It’s all about striving for state-of-the-art technology. “We are adding or updating equipment all the time. Our most recent project has added in-car cameras for several of our patrol vehicles. We plan on outfitting all of our patrol vehicles with the in-car cameras.”
Chief Melton is ecstatic to be serving this area, and he says what makes him most proud is “the support of the Webb City community, not only for law enforcement in general, but for our department.
“We are so fortunate to serve a community that is just as proud of us as we are of them.”
Webb City Chief of Police
Donald E. Melton Fast Facts
Chief Melton’s youth: Transplanted from Walker, Missouri, a small rural town in Vernon County between Nevada and El Dorado Springs. The population was around 325 in 1988 upon Melton leaving for college. Graduated from Walker High School, where he attended school from kindergarten through 12th grade. Melton’s sister, dad, uncle (his dad’s brother) and their mother and father (Melton’s grandparents) all went to school in Walker.
Chief Melton’s education: Graduated from Missouri Southern State College in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, along with an Associate of Science Degree in Law Enforcement. Also received executive level training from the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol
Chief Melton’s career: In 1994, started with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Reserves, voluntarily serving as a deputy until getting hired as a patrol officer by the Webb City Police Department in September 1996. Promoted to patrol corporal in 1998, patrol sergeant in 1999, patrol lieutenant in 2003, assistant chief of police in 2005. Served as interim chief of police from 2005-2006, then promoted to chief of police in 2017.
Chief Melton’s staff/department: Works with 28 sworn law enforcement officers and eight civilian employees. There are five divisions, including patrol, communication, criminal investigation, administrative and secretarial, and special services, which includes school resource officers
and animal control.
Accomplishments: Giving back to the community through several programs such as Shop with a Cop to provide underprivileged children gifts at Christmas/Badges & Burgers fundraiser for the Webb City Senior Center, Webb City CARES and the United Way/Annual Chili Contest and fundraiser for the Webb City Senior Center/Free Kid Print (identification/fingerprinting) monthly during the summer at the farmer’s market free kids meals/Career Credits, which mentors high school seniors/Getting employees more involved in the community outside of their regular job duties.