LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The new decertification laws in Virginia are pulling more law enforcement officers from their positions as departments still deal with staff shortages.
Executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, John Jones, says while shortages remain a big issue, it’s more important to have trusted officers and deputies on the streets who are being honest and fair.
Jones says the Commonwealth has about 400 open positions for law enforcement deputies alone. But now with 146 decertifications as of mid-January, the number of open jobs is growing.
“It’s not a lot considering how many officers we have across the state and that’s the good news. The bad news is that we had any and I guess the good news is that if they get decertified we’re not going to have them anymore,” Jones said.
During the last few sessions of the General Assembly, the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has been supporting decertification.
Jones told WFXR News that the recent pay raises will keep the good officers around and attract more.
“There are some substantial raises in the making and I know that our people, our deputies are feeling a bit better about their profession and I hope the turnover will be reducing,” said Jones.
He says the number of shortages is much greater in jails with a turnover rate of 24 percent.
“That’s what these pay raises will do it’ll keep our good people on the job and it’ll attract qualified people to be deputy sheriffs,” Jones added.
Recently, the House and the Senate voted to provide wage increases for law enforcement.
Before leaving office, former Gov. Ralph Northam proposed pay raises for state troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs, and regional jail officers as part of his “Thank You, Virginia Tour” in December.
Since Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office, he has continued to support officers and troopers’ salary raises.
“You need to be able to attract qualified people that you don’t mind sending out on a call to deal with the public that you’re proud of and you know you’ll do the right thing,” Jones said.
Each law enforcement agency across Virginia is handling decertification differently, but Jones added that hopefully, the future of policing involves positions filled with the right people.
Note: This article originally listed the name of the executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association as James Jones rather than John Jones. This has since been corrected.