Omaha hosts job fair for city departments

The fair aims to fill vacancies within city departments -- with OPD being the largest void to fill.
The City of Omaha hosted a job fair Thursday evening, with special attention to city departments like fire and police.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 10:13 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - After graduating from St. John’s University in Minnesota, Preston Blaine decided to come home, and spent most of his time at the Omaha Job Fair talking to fire and police department recruiters.

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

That desire to serve appeals to several of those we spoke with here. This woman stepped outside to fill out an application for the Omaha Police Department. OPD currently has 804 police officers and is budgeted for 102 more.

“We’re really hoping that we can bring some people in that are interested that really want to make a difference,” said OPD Lt. Chuck Casey. “We’re looking for people with good judgment, good decision-makers, people that want to have a good career.”

Casey is hopeful that half of those 100 openings will be filled with this next recruiting class.

“They’re hired as police officers, they’re going through training as police officers,” Casey said. “We’re hoping everyone that’s in there as of today stays the next 21 weeks. Our next one we’re going to do is in July for a big class. We’re hoping 50 recruits apply, accept the challenge, we’ll get you in. It’s a great job, a great career.”

The overall U.S. job market shrank by 8% at the start of the pandemic, but once employment began recovering, many local police jobs remained open.

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

The Omaha Fire Department is hoping to stockpile talent in coming academy classes. They expect a large number of long-term firefighters to retire.

“They’re getting paid to go through that training,” said Michael Davenport with Omaha Fire. “It’s a 13-week academy, and it’s not easy, don’t get me wrong. It’s very tough, and they get tested every week. They have to be in physical shape. 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.