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GBPD tackling officer shortage
GBPD Office
Having a shortage of police officers is not something new, nor is it limited to smaller departments like Great Bend. - TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

While the Great Bend Police Department faces an ongoing officer shortage, Police Chief Steve Haulmark praised his staff for its willingness to do what is necessary to keep the city safe.

“The officers have been great about stepping up and chipping in when needed,” he said, noting he’s utilizing some creative scheduling and the current personnel are working extra shifts. “Teamwork is very evident.”

This is not a new problem, Haulmark said. “We are several people down for most of last year.”

Now, with the exit of two officers by month’s end, the department will be short six. He did say they have a couple candidates undergoing screening, so that could lessen the shortage.

“It’s not just a small town thing,” said Haulmark, who came to Great Bend in December after serving as assistant police chief for the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department. “People just aren’t looking for a career in law enforcement like they used to.”

“It is the same struggle,” he said. “You don’t just want applicants, you want qualified applicants.”

Part of it is a generational thing and part is due to the national anti-law enforcement narrative, he said. 

But, “we’re pushing ahead. We’re getting the word out,” Haulmark said. “We’re trying to get creative.”

Some of their efforts, such as visiting schools, have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they do have trips planned, he said.