Photo by Aaron Ricca
KINGMAN – A local youth program is taking a hit this year.
Kingman Deputy Police Chief Rusty Cooper announced Thursday that both sessions of the 2019 Junior Police Academy have been cancelled.
KPD has held two junior academy sessions each year for the last 13 years for a total of 26 academy sessions that have impacted roughly 650 children and teenage students.
“The decision to cancel this year’s program was not made easily and is due to current and on-going staffing shortages,” Cooper said. “Additional resignations are anticipated over the next few months.”
KPD School Resource Officers, who would normally organize and oversee the academy during the eight-week summer school break, will be temporarily re-assigned to uniform patrol duties.
The department’s current SRO program has officers embedded at Kingman Unified School District and Kingman Academy of Learning. That program consists of one sergeant and five officer positions. Two of the five positions are unfilled, leaving three officers and a sergeant to cover Kingman schools in Kingman. KUSD and KAOL are aware and have been involved in the decision-making process specific to the impact on both school districts.
“Consideration is being given to additional service adjustments department wide,” Cooper said. “KPD has been communicating with community partners regarding the staffing shortages and potential impact on services provided.”
Cooper added that for the safety of the community and officers, KPD is committed to providing no less than a minimum number of uniformed officers on duty at any given time.
“To meet this commitment and fill an immediate need for staffing in the uniformed patrol bureau, we must pull officers from other areas of service,” he said.
KPD has not replaced vacancies in the detective bureau, SRO team, traffic squad and gang enforcement task force, but currently has four new officers in field training and one recruit officer in the academy.
Cooper said agencies on a national level are faced with a dwindling pool of qualified applicants, the effects which are also experienced locally.
“Many apply, fewer are invited to test and even fewer are able to successfully get through the rigorous background process,” he said. “Those that do get accepted and hired are often recruited and wooed away by other agencies that can pay a higher wage. Many times, it is a neighboring agency that is doing the recruiting and wooing. Certified law enforcement officers have become a hot commodity.”
KPD will continue to evaluate priorities of service and make plans to continue providing efficient police services to the residents of Kingman.
“It’s the mission of the Kingman Police Department to maintain a high quality of life for our residents and visitors, through an active partnership with the community, by being proactive in reducing crime, apprehending criminal offenders, and aggressively addressing all public safety concerns,” Cooper said.
To keep up with developments at KPD, visit their website at https://www.cityofkingman.gov/government/departments/police-department.
Information provided by Kingman Police Department