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The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

UNKPD navigates campus wide staff shortages

Officer departures and a change in chief mark UNKPD change. Photo by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff

The call for employees continues to be prevalent in business windows and online job listing sites. According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, there were 8.8. million job openings in the U.S. at the end of July.

Some of these openings can be found at the UNK Police Department. UNKPD Chief, Ricci Fast, said law enforcement is short-handed everywhere, including at UNK.

Due to the staff shortage, we foresee the stress this may create for officers.

Six certified officers departed from UNKPD within the last calendar year. The department has since had a change in chief, removed its lieutenant position and created two sergeant positions. 

Since the beginning of the summer, UNKPD has almost doubled its staff by hiring two full-time officers with another joining the department in October. 

Two openings are still available.

Despite adding to their team, UNKPD only has one person on most shifts. Fast said they would ideally have two or three people on every shift. Some of these solo shifts are for 12 hours.

We believe covering a campus of just over 6,000 students could be a lot for one officer. Meeting the needs of all students could be challenging. 

If services are needed in multiple areas, our staff foresees students experiencing a prolonged wait. Fast said select services may take longer to get to, but policing services, 911 and emergency situations are the same as they always have been.

Even though UNKPD has fewer staff members, Fast said he doesn’t expect campus safety to lessen. We hope his predictions are correct and that UNK Police are able to help maintain a safe environment for students.

We appreciate the relationship that UNKPD has built with the Kearney Police Department. Fast said the two departments work together and help each other out when needed. This is beneficial for helping cover the campus’ needs.

Our staff is thankful for all involved in helping keep UNK and the Kearney community safe.

We recognize the additional help received from student workers employed by UNKPD. Students not only get experience working for the police department but also help keep their peers safe. 

The Antelope approves of other recent safety measures taken by UNKPD including increased security cameras in buildings and additional lighting and cameras in parking lots.

While we support the new hires and safety measures taken, we encourage UNKPD to fill their openings as soon as possible.

Our team is confident in the ability of UNK’s current police staff but believes they could best provide for students with a larger staff. By filling its openings and increasing the number of officers working each shift at UNKPD, we believe students’ needs will be and will continue to be met.

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