Law enforcement in small communities feel impact of KBI shortage

KSN News

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – KSN spoke with local law enforcement agencies that say the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent shortage is impacting their investigations.

It’s the smaller communities in Kansas that really feel the impact of the agent shortage. They say at times they need the KBI to complete large-scale criminal investigations, like homicides, child sex crimes and drug crimes.

In the city of Newton, police chief Eric Murphy says there’s been an increase in violent crimes. He says, tack on an understaffed KBI, and his department has a problem.

“We had made requests in the past because of conflict of interest cases and it just didn’t quite meet their criteria and a lot of their criteria is set because of the more serious crimes that they need to keep their time open for,” said Eric Murphy, Newton police chief.

The shortage is also being felt a little further north.

“There has been times that we’ve requested assistance from the KBI, they help us whenever they can, but because of the shortages they do have a hard time meeting all of our needs,” said Mark Brinck, Exec. Sgt & PIO for McPherson Police Department.

Brink is a former detective, and says the agency’s assistance is invaluable for when they have shortages of their own or investigations are above their capabilities. The KBI says they have twice as many open and active homicide investigations as they have agents to work them.

“Our employees are working more hours now than they have in the past we’ve seen quite a steep increase in our overtime spending as our agents really struggle to keep up with the demands of  their case work,” said Katie Whisman, Executive Officer at KBI.

Whisman says they KBI hopes to add 13 more agents by requesting an addition of just over 1.3 million dollars to their budget. Both law enforcement officials said besides money, something else may be a factor in the shortage.

“There’s been some interest lost in it, increased danger as far as being a law enforcement officer and I think that affects people wanting to be law enforcement officers as well,” said Brinck.

If you’re interested in learning more about KBI positions and requirements, click here.