ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County leaders are springing into action as the police department deals with record shortages.
Just this year, the department has lost 26 officers. That’s double what they’ve lost in years past.
“26 is darn close to 20% of our workforce out in a year and you know we still have another five weeks left of the year,” Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall said.
Hall told 10 News it boils down to the current climate and compensation.
“We don’t have a lot of control over the politics of all this. We do have control over how we compensate our officers,” Hall said.
That responsibility falls on the Board of Supervisors, which is now taking action. First, the board voted last week to give all officers a one-time $1,500 bonus.
“This is just a first step,” Hall said.
Next, the board will look at restructuring the pay scale.
When it comes to starting pay, Roanoke County isn’t far off from others in our area, at $39,221.
The table below shows how Roanoke County compares to some other localities in the region:
|Locality||Starting Officer Salary|
|Franklin County||About $36,000|
It’s the pay beyond that starting salary holding Roanoke County leaders back. Departments everywhere are competing to fill their force and Hall said their lack of pay scale makes for a tough sell, not just to recruit but to retain.
It’s a problem putting Hall’s officers in a bind as they try to pick up the slack, pulling from specialized units like animal control, traffic, school resource officers and even investigations just to cover patrol.
“We’ve got to find a way to put a stop to that or we’re not going to enjoy the level of public safety that our citizens expect,” Hall said.
Hall said they should have a proposal for a new pay scale soon. The Board of Supervisors will consider that when budget talks begin in March.