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Area police departments working to maintain force levels

ROANOKE, Va.- – Police departments in the Roanoke Valley say it's getting harder to recruit and keep officers. Many police academies are starting this month, giving departments the chance to bring in new officers. 

One of the law enforcement agencies looking to bolster its ranks is Roanoke County. More officers left in 2017 than in 2018 but the department is constantly trying to get new recruits. 
     
Chief Howard Hall cites the low unemployment rate, social media and competition from other companies offering better paying jobs and hours as some of the challenges. 

Last year, the department had just over 500 applicants but only 68 people showed up for testing. 

 "We try as we can to hit some of the job fairs in the region though we're getting fewer and fewer applicants from the traditional job fair," said Hall. 

Roanoke County will have 142 officers after eight new recruits finish the academy starting this month. Roanoke City has 17 new hires who will start at the academy. 

Salem police currently has 57 officers, but they're allocated to have 67. Five new recruits started at Cardinal Academy Wednesday, which leaves the department with 5 vacancies. 

The Vinton Police Department recently posted on social media it is taking applications for those interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.