Rocky Mount hiring new officers after one put on administrative leave

Leave comes after officer shot a man who was attacking him during a traffic stop

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – The Town of Rocky Mount said it doesn't have enough police after it had to put one officer on administrative leave. That officer shot a man last month at the Rocky Mount Plaza after he was attacked during a traffic stop.

"Standard policy, then all of a sudden you're down a person, and when you only have a three-man platoon and you're down to two, you're forced to bring someone in overtime or do we go with just two people?" town manager James Ervin said.

Ervin said the incident came at a time when the town is seeing calls for service go up.

"As our region grows, we have seen a modest increase in call volume, and fortunately these things aren't traumatic things, but they are things we need to respond to," Ervin said.

Those responses, coupled with lower staff means officers have been doing more.

"We've used up half of our overtime budget, and in the long run that degrades morale, it degrades readiness," Ervin said.

But Ervin said he was finally convinced that the department needed more officers after it had to provide security at Roanoke Memorial Hospital for a man officers arrested that required two weeks of treatment.

"That took a person off-shift the whole time to stay with that individual. If you're the treating facility, you want security and it's our job to provide it," Ervin said.

Rocky Mount is now hiring two new officers, a move that would increase its force by 10 percent.

"In the long run, we hope it gives us a more mission-ready Police Department, and we'll continue to provide the same level of safety that our folks expect," Ervin said.

Training for new recruits takes six to eight months. The town hopes to begin that training by the end of the year.