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The Antelope

Interim chief makes a name for campus police

Courtesy Photo

Ricci Fast’s dedication to law enforcement and commitment to UNK has landed him the role of Interim Police Chief for the campus police department. Now, with about six months in the position already, the department has adjusted to its new roles.

At first, the promotion came with challenges for Fast due to short-staffing that led to the restructuring of the whole department.

“We did a complete department restructure when I first took over, and it was honestly a lot bigger than I ever imagined it would be,” Fast said. “We eliminated a lieutenant position and created two sergeant positions to be more competitive in the hiring field.”

After tackling the short-staffing challenge, the department is now only down by two officers.

“Six months later, we’re almost fully staffed and we’re at a much better place than we were in May,” Fast said.

‘Police Chief’ is a title Fast had been aiming toward in the department. He obtained a master’s degree in counseling and school psychology and learned a lot in his former role as sergeant in hopes of a future promotion.

“I was positioning myself by getting my degree and other education as sergeant, so everybody kind of knew that this is the direction I wanted to go,” Fast said. “It happened a lot quicker than expected but when your opportunity arises, you have to take it.”

Fast went into law enforcement by treading the same path as his entire family.

“My grandpa was a sergeant, my uncle was a robbery detective, my mom was a 911 operator and my cousin is currently a sergeant,” Fast said. “I grew up around it and that was always what interested me. I really didn’t even consider getting a different degree or trying to do anything else when I got to college. It was just criminal justice or nothing.”

Initially hired by UNK in 2011 as an officer, he was then promoted to investigation and education sergeant in 2014. He held that position until his recent promotion in May.

Ted Eichholz, assistant director of UNKPD, was also hired in 2011. He has been able to witness Fast’s transition into this new position and his leadership over the last 12 years.

“It’s been his goal to be the chief for some time now, and I believe the transition has gone very well,” Eiccholz said. “He’s done a great job stepping up into the role and transitioning from police sergeant to police chief. (He’s) really getting out and communicating with the different departments here at UNK and trying to make a good name for the police department.”

Being a visible and approachable presence at UNK is Fast’s biggest goal with the police department.

“I don’t want to have a department that sits in our cars and nobody wants to talk to us,” Fast said. “I want to have a department that hones in on the community policing aspect. We eat lunch in the Graze and URS, we walk through buildings and we are at every sporting event. We want it to be normal for us to be there.”

These efforts do not go unnoticed by students.

“I was at the volleyball game last week and the police there were so friendly to us,”  said Tara Bauman, sophomore at UNK. “I feel safer when I see them around campus, and they always make an effort to connect with students.”

Fast currently holds the interim position with hopes of making it permanent in the future.

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Rachel Ostdiek
Rachel Ostdiek, Executive Editor
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