ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Recruiting has been a struggle for multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Bedford Police Department, the Roanoke County Police Department, and Virginia State Police.
So, leaders are having to get creative.
Law enforcement leaders in our area agree that being in the public eye and in law enforcement now is harder than it has been in previous generations. Therefore, different leaders have tried different methods to fill their vacancies in their departments.
According to Chief Howard Hall with the Roanoke County Police Department, “We have worked very hard with our county administration and our board of supervisors through the process of finalizing a pay plan for our personnel.”
Hall said he has hired six new officers this month, but he still has 11 vacancies out of the 140 authorized positions in his department.
“Recruiting, right now, is very difficult. I’ve described recently the applicant pool as a puddle. The number of folks applying for law enforcement is down, not just here I think, but across the state and across the country it is substantially less than it was,” Hall continued.
One of the biggest difficulties in recruiting, according to Hall, is competing for qualified applicants with pay. He said the Board of Supervisors and county officials have been diligent in bumping up pay, so base pay for his officers will soon be $42,000.
In the Town of Bedford, Police Chief Todd Foreman said he’s been working to turn around his recruiting difficulties.
“We’ve tried some different marketing tools in the process that we’re getting ready to do. We’ve got a test coming up in February. But we’ve reached out to some of the online advertisements.”
However, Botetourt County Sheriff Matthew Ward has said they have more than 100 deputies and they don’t have any trouble recruiting, so these recruiting difficulties are not everywhere. Ward credits it to morale in the station and in the community.
Meanwhile, the Virginia General Assembly is allowing Virginia State Police to authorize the hiring of more than 2,000 sworn positions, according to law enforcement officials.
Those positions include troopers, special agents, and supervisors statewide. Virginia State Police officials said there are currently 285 vacancies.
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Virginia State Police officials welcomed more than 50 new trooper trainees to the Academy as part of their 134th basic session. Those recruits have 27 weeks until they reach graduation.