VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Leaders with the Virginia Beach Police Department said new recruiting efforts are paying off, with more experienced police officers joining the force.
“Do more. Have more. Be more,” that’s the recruiting slogan for the department.
Nationwide police staffing shortages pushed Virginia Beach city leaders to offer sizable incentives. Captain William Zelms said this fall, they started offering $10,000 bonuses for experienced police officers and $5,000 for new hires.
“That has certainly helped us attract quality candidates,” said Captain Zelms. “Not only for the new workforce, but those experienced officers that are in state and out of state."
Gaining experience takes time. Lt. James Gordon said department leaders are utilizing more online tools to find candidates across the state or even beyond state lines.
“We have made a recent push to online advertisement and try to drive towards that media crave of this new generation,” Lt. Gordon said.
Lt. Gordon said they simplified the hiring process for officers out of state by cutting their drive time.
“We physically went up to Bronx, New York to hold in-person testing for applicants,” Lt. Gordon said. “And that saves them a trip to coming down.”
Department leaders now participate in an "Option 5 Academy" to streamline the steps an officer out of state must take to get a department of criminal justice services certification.
“Our certified academies have proven very valuable for us,” Capt. Zelms said. “It has allowed us to quickly reduce our vacancy rate.”
Lt. Gordon said they are roughly 73 officers short, but that number will soon change.
“Forty-three people currently in our police recruiting academy right now,” Lt. Gordon said.
City leaders recently implemented a new step pay scale plan to show what set wage employees will make each year based on position and years of service. Captain Zelms said the system is not only boosting recruits but helping keep current employees.
Virginia Beach Police Department leaders are looking forward to hosting their own "Option 5 Academy" for out-of-state police hires in the spring.
Interested applicants can visit the recruiting website by clicking here.