New police chief plans to tackle rentention, staff shortage in department

Chief Ryan Zuidema is a familiar face, 21-year veteran with LPD


LYNCHBURG, Va. – New Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema is a familiar face. He's a 21-year veteran of LPD and was serving as interim chief after former Chief Raul Diaz announced an early retirement in August.

The first thing Chief Zuidema wants to address, he said, "Internally we're going to be working with the officers and the city staff to try and figure out the best ways we can address retention issues."

His plans are to continue the efforts they have going to keep and recruit new officers.

"From signing bonuses to bringing new people, to recruitment bonuses for our current staff if they recruit someone to come on," Zuidema said.

Outside of the department, Zuidema said community building is on his list, as well as solving crimes. There's been six homicides in the city this year. Half remain unsolved.

"The challenge with some of that though, honestly, is having staffing available to do that and that's why the retention and the recruitment ties into this,' Zuidema said.

Zuidema said despite their challenges, his promise to the community is their safety first.

"If you pick up the phone and call 911, there's an officer that's going to be there as quickly as possible," Zuidema said.