Understaffed and overworked: the Fairbanks Police Department works to hire new officers

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 4:47 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Staffing issues at the Fairbanks Police Department have forced officers to work extra hours to try to keep Fairbanks safe. The department is short 11 positions from total of the 45 they are budgeted for.

Fairbanks Police Chief Ron Dupee told us, “Staffing shortages create over-time. It creates problems with us getting, you know, the amount of people on the road that we like. We have minimum staffing levels that we have to meet to provide the quality and service that Fairbanks demands.”

When Dupee accepted the job of Chief in March of this year, one of his main missions was recruiting officers to fill empty positions.

“We’re working at about 50% in our detective division, and then we are short two patrol lieutenants right now, so we are short two supervisor positions. We are also short in the officer positions,” Dupee said.

The department recently had one person graduate from the Alaska State Trooper academy in Sitka, and Dupee says by the end of July they may hire up to four additional people from other departments around the country.

The chief also said that their budget helps them in hiring new officers. “One of the good things the city council does is they fully fund all of the positions for the Fairbanks Police Department even if there is not an officer assigned to that specific position. In my budget I have authorization for all 45 officers and the pay for all 45 officers.”

Money isn’t the only challenge in hiring, according to Dupee, “Training takes anywhere from 4-5 months so we are limited on the number of officers we can train at a time, and the number of hires we can have through the academy and lateral officers.”

He is hopeful that they will soon be much closer to fully staffed, giving officers a much needed break.

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