NORFOLK, Va. — The Norfolk Police Department is set to graduate 17 new police officers on Thursday evening, at a time when the force still has hundreds of vacancies.
The recruits will earn their gun and badge during Thursday's Police Academy graduation in exchange for their oath to serve and protect.
Even with the 17 new additions, NPD still has 205 vacancies. With a department of 733 sworn officers, that is roughly 28% of the force that sits vacant.
On Thursday, Governor Glenn Youngkin acknowledged it’s not just a Norfolk problem.
“Law enforcement vacancy rates are routinely 20% and are approaching 40% in some of our cities in Virginia," Youngkin said.
The Republican governor's proposed state budget includes $30 million for national recruiting strategies.
In Norfolk, Thursday's 111th Police Academy graduation comes as a limited police force tries to rein in violent crime. This year’s 60 homicides rival some of the worst years on record in Norfolk.
The 17 new graduating officers also join a force under interim leadership.
13News Now pressed city leaders this week about their deadline for picking a new police chief. We’re told to expect the announcement "early next year."
The demographic makeup of the new recruiting class includes 16 males, 1 female; 5 African American, 7 white, 3 Hispanic, 1 Asian, and 1 other.