Two thousand eight hundred hours is nearly 117 full days, longer than the regular season for K-State football.
That’s how many combined hours Chris and Karen Hunter have volunteered as Riley County auxiliary police officers.
Chris and Karen served more than 1,800 hours and 1,000 hours, respectively, assisting the Riley County Police Department’s sworn officers.
Chris, who started in 1997, is the auxiliary captain, and Karen, who joined in 2001, is a sergeant. The number of years and hours led to RCPD Director Brad Schoen presenting them with plaques at the Sept. 19 law board meeting to honor them in retirement.
“These two have been around a long time,” Schoen said. “(They’re) retiring from a job for which they were never paid.”
The Hunters, who have been married for 22 years, are also dedicated to each other.
“She’s put up with me for way too many years to get rid of me now,” Chris said.
“He’s stuck with me now, I guess,” Karen said.
Chris, who grew up in Manhattan, and Karen, who grew up in Smith Center, met through the Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1989 while Karen attended K-State.
Karen said they understand each other’s quirks and moods after being together for as long as they have.
“We get along really well for being together pretty much all day, it seems like,” she said.
Whatever they do, they try to do together.
“Everything we do in pairs, it seems like,” Karen said.“We can’t get away from each other.”
In addition to auxiliary work, they served as volunteers for the Riley County Fire Department and currently work part time together in Walmart’s automotive department.
The only time they wouldn’t be together is during their day jobs. Chris is a mechanic for Howie’s Recycling and Trash Service, and Karen works for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
Even when they’re wrong, they’re wrong together.
“Our first anniversary, we both forgot about it,” Chris said. “It was a couple of days later we realized.”
Chris said he never had a problem doing things by himself before meeting Karen.
Now, he said things typically aren’t as fun without her.
“I asked her if she was going to the Manhattan and Junction City game with me,” Chris said. “She said, ‘It’s cold. Find somebody else.’” “So he didn’t go,” Karen said.
“Well I was tired, and I hurt my hand the day before,” Chris said. So naturally, the decision to stop volunteering with the auxiliary unit was a joint decision. They made the decision after assessing that the stress level of being leaders in a unit with 10 to 15 volunteers started to outweigh the enjoyment.
“With being the captain, when your guys screw up, you get the phone call,” Chris said.
However, they said they’ve enjoyed the years serving the community in the auxiliary unit. They plan to leave the unit officially at the end of the year. “It’s really neat to come in here as a citizen, and all these cops come up and know you,” Karen said. During the years, those duties have included assisting K-State game day traffic, DUI checkpoints and parades. They have also kept eyes on the city’s parks and brought people arrested to the Riley County Jail Friday and Saturday nights. Chris said he’s enjoyed the camaraderie between the sworn officers and the volunteers.
“I grew up here, and I’ve always enjoyed it,” he said. Those who want more information on becoming an auxiliary police officer can go to the Riley County Police Department website, rileycountypolice.org, and look under the Programs and Services heading.