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Mon, June 24

Staffing shortage forces KPD to cancel this year’s Junior Police Academy

Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper said the Kingman Police Department hopes to bring back the Junior Police Academy in 2020. (Daily Miner file photo)

Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper said the Kingman Police Department hopes to bring back the Junior Police Academy in 2020. (Daily Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – The Kingman Police Department has decided to cancel the 14th year of the Junior Police Academy due to staffing shortages, a move Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper says will allow KPD to focus on uniformed patrol.

Two Junior Police Academies have been held each year for the past 13 years, and have served almost 650 students. However, due to staffing shortages, recruitment difficulties and retiring officers, KPD needs to focus on uniformed patrols. Cooper said that’s so the department can continue providing the level of service it is committed to furnishing.

KPD school resource officers organize the academy. Two of the five positions are unfilled, leaving three officers and a sergeant to cover the schools in Kingman. Those officers will be temporarily reassigned to uniform patrol duties, according to a KPD press release.

The deputy chief said KPD has two senior officers, both of whom have more than 25 years of service, who have recently retired or are planning to retire. Two more officers went to another agency within the last few months, and two more are scheduled to go to another agency within the coming months. Those losses have impacted KPD’s uniformed patrol.

“With that staffing concern, if we were to put on the Junior Police Academy, it would take away from our coverage,” Cooper explained. “So we’ve decided that we need to put our focus on the uniformed patrol. That’s in the best interest of public safety.”

The safety of officers is also a concern.

“Many of our officers are working overtime to cover shifts, and we want to make sure they’re not getting fatigued and tired because that would lead to officer safety issues, and we’re concerned about the welfare of our officers as well as the community,” Cooper said.

To make things more difficult, along with officers retiring or leaving, recruitment is also a challenge. Cooper said trouble recruiting police officers is a nationwide problem, but that KPD’s recruitment team is actively pursuing new hires. KPD has four new officers in field training and one recruit officer in the academy, according to the release.

“I can say we’re getting quite a few applications and people who are interested, but when it comes to those who meet the qualifications is where we’re having difficulty,” Cooper said.

Cooper doesn’t see this as the end of the academy.

“Our hope, our wish, our desire is that it will be back for 2020,” he said.

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