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Omaha hosts job fair for city departments

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) – After graduating from St. John’s University in Minnesota, Preston Blaine decided to return home and spent much of his time at the Omaha Job Fair talking to firefighter and police recruiters.

“I’m just looking for more information,” Blaine said. “When I was in college I was a firefighter and I just fell in love with it. It didn’t feel like a job, it was more like a calling, a calling. I felt very content to be able to serve my community.”

This desire to serve attracts some of those we have spoken to here. This woman went outside to fill out a statement with the Omaha Police Department. The OPD currently employs 804 police officers with an additional 102 staff in the budget.

“We really hope that we can attract interested people who really want to make a difference,” said OPD Lt. Chuck Casey. “We are looking for people with common sense, good decision making, people who want to make a good career.”

Casey hopes that half of those 100 positions will be filled by the next recruiting course.

“They get hired as cops, they get trained as cops,” Casey said. “We hope that everyone who is there today will stay for the next 21 weeks. Our next one we’re going to do will be in July for a big class. We hope that 50 recruits will apply, accept the challenge and we will accept you. It’s a great job, a great career.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the overall U.S. job market shrank by 8%, but as employment began to recover, many local police positions remained open.

In Omaha, American Rescue Plan funds have opened up new opportunities for city departments, but the OPD has more vacancies than the rest combined.

The Omaha Fire Department is looking to stock up on talent in upcoming academy classes. They expect a large number of longtime firefighters to retire.

“They get paid to get trained,” said Omaha Fire’s Michael Davenport. “It’s a 13 week academy and it’s not easy, don’t get me wrong. It is very difficult and they are checked every week. They must be in physical form. We want the best of the best and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Applications for the next academy class for OPD must be submitted online by midnight tonight.

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