Fairbanks faces police shortage, raising operational worries
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Fairbanks is facing a shortage of police officers that is raising concerns about the police department’s operations, officials have said.
The Fairbanks Police Department has seven unfilled positions, a deficit expected to grow this year because of officers who have said they will retire, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday.
Four of the department’s 46 officers, including Chief Eric Jewkes, plan to retire in the coming months, officials said.
“We’re losing some very highly experienced guys and we don’t expect to fill all the positions,” Fairbanks Communications Director Teal Soden said.
Of the expected 11 vacancies, four will remain unfunded through at least 2019 under the terms of a three-year contract approved in March, officials said.
Those retiring hold supervisory roles with ranks of sergeant or above and patrol officers will be promoted to fill those positions, officials said.
The full impact on operations is not yet clear. A dedicated downtown patrol is not planned for the summer, but Deputy Chief Dan Welborn is “working on a plan to try and have a guy go down there a lot,” Soden said.
Officer shortages are a nationwide problem, Fairbanks police spokeswoman Yumi McCulloch said.
“There’s going to need to be some creative ideas in order to get folks here,” McCulloch said.
Fairbanks offers a one-time bonus to new officers who meet Alaska Police Standard Council standards.
Four officers have each received a $20,000 bonus, and another received a $5,000 bonus, said Fairbanks Human Resources Director Angela Foster-Snow.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com