YODER — A lack of new law enforcement officers has prompted the state's main officer training center to cancel one of its classes.
A class scheduled for September at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Yoder was canceled after only 11 people enrolled to become certified as officers. The class required at least 24 people, said Ed Pavey, director of the center.
A lack of law enforcement jobs caused by the weak economy likely caused the low enrollment, said Pavey, who could not remember another time in the 20 years he's worked at the center that a class was canceled because it didn't have enough students.
"Agencies aren't hiring officers, for whatever reason," Pavey said.
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Seven out of every 10 officers in Kansas are trained at the campus, he said. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the center trained 312 officers enrolled in basic training-related programs. Satellite academies in Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka, and the Kansas Highway Patrol, trained a total of 54 officers in the last fiscal year.
For the past several years, Pavey said, the training center has offered two classes at the same time because of enrollment demand. Now, he said, some local agencies aren't hiring officers to fill vacancies or agencies are trimming positions.
In Grant County, where an officer will be resigning, county commissioners decided to fill the job despite a tight budget. Grant County Sheriff Lance Babcock on Thursday praised commissioners for filling the post, and a trained officer working in the jail will replace the officer leaving.
When the economy improves and the demand for officer training increases, a potential bottleneck could arise at the training center, Pavey said.
"Hopefully, it will work itself out," Pavey said.