LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Lynchburg Police Department is increasing starting pay in hopes that its existing officers will be more enticed to stay, and new officers will want to call the Hill City home.
During a press conference on Friday, officials announced that officers will now start at $50,000 a year.
The $10,000 raise separates them from others in the region and will not only help to bring in new hires, but to keep trained officers.
“We must become an employer of choice,” Lynchburg City Manager Wynter Benda said. “One way we begin to do this is to lead this region in salaries for our police department.”
Benda said this is something they’ve been working on for months, adding, police need to be fully equipped to handle rising crime in the community.
For those who wear the badge, a pay raise means making strides to protect and serve.
“There’s no place for this type of violence in our city,” Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema said. “We’ve all got to do a better job collectively to address these issues long before they come up.”
Chief Zuidema said the department has 28 vacancies. They’ve pulled 10 people out of specialized units to make sure they can get to calls, and the staffing shortage is making it nearly impossible to do any kind of preventative work in the community.
“Our staffing levels as they are, they’re running from call to call,” Chief Zuidema said. “We know the importance of building trust and relationships in our community.”
While this is good news for the Hill City, nearby police departments are wondering how they’ll compete and if they’ll lose officers.
This comes after Gov. Ralph Northam proposed raises for Virginia state troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and regional jail officers.
“When you’re having your pool of applicants diminish by a vast amount because people are not interested in going into law enforcement, it’s a difficult thing,” Lynchburg City Sheriff Donald Sloan said.
Sheriff Sloan said this move shows that Virginia values its police officers. Still, law enforcement officials said they can’t tackle the crime alone. They continue asking the community for help.
Pay raises will go into effect Jan. 5. This goes for new hires as well as existing officers.