Department tries to fill vacancies

Abbey Brown

Holes have been made and the campus police department is in the process of patching them up.

Officer Larry Dvorak was fired from the department April 18.

“He’s a good person,” Chief Robert Deane said. “He was an individual who didn’t work out. We thought it was best if he picked another line of work.”

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and Campus Services, said the university expects a lot of the campus police officers.

“We have high expectations of our officers, and they have to perform at a high level to protect the students of this campus,” he said. “Some people have to leave because they don’t meet those expectations.”

The department was short officers before Dvorak’s firing and the retirement in March of former Capt. Eugene Hoofer.

Tice said the university is in the process of filling a number of vacancies at the officer level. There are 19 officers, including the chief, on the department right now. It is considered to be fully staffed at 23 officers, meaning the department is four short.

“We need to get people into the police academy because the process is nearly a year long before an officer actually can work alone,” Tice said.

As of July 1, another patrol position will be added to the police department, meaning they could hire five more officers, he said.

“We feel like we need three more officers based on the increase of land that we patrol,” Tice said. “Hopefully we will gradually add those positions over the next few years. The first step was adding this first position.”

Campus police are responsible for patrolling the entire main campus, South Campus, the intramural complex on Campbell Lane, old Bowling Green Mall, Lost River Cave and the Agricultural Research and Education Complex off Nashville Road.

Major Jerry Phelps said the addition of patrol areas and the decrease of officers is putting a strain on the department.

“People are having to do a lot, yes,” he said. “And this summer, with vacations and in-services, will be very hectic. We will start plugging people in to fill in for those needing time off. (Crime Prevention Officer) Joe Harbaugh will be on the streets some, and I may even patrol if I’m needed.”

“It takes everyone working together to make it all work,” he said.

One change that has been made to help alleviate some of the stress is Phelps’ promotion, Deane said. Monday he moved moved from Capt. of Investigations to Major of Patrol and Investigations.

“He’s experienced and has great people skills,” Deane said. “Major Phelps has worked in every division. He was the logical person to move over and help some of the younger guys who will have to step up eventually when he retires. We wanted to get one of our most experienced officers to take on more responsibilities.”

Phelps’ duties include supervisory, administrative and technical police work and directing and controlling investigations and patrol. He will also oversee training, according to his job description.

“It’s a challenge,” Phelps said. “It adds to my work load considerably. But I look forward to challenges.”

A board will be convened to select a new Captain of Investigations, he said.

Reach Abbey Brown at [email protected].