RADFORD, Va. – Solving officer shortage woes, Buena Vista and Radford are ready to cash in some federal grant money to hire more help.
Thousands of federal dollars are headed to two Southwest Virginia cities to pull police departments out of their hiring troubles.
The Buena Vista Police Department is receiving a more than $93,750 grant.
Assistant Chief Waylon Miller said with a force of only 16 officers, he wants to add two more hires.
He said just three weeks ago they started an on-call system for officers to help pick up the slack.
“This is a tough decision for leadership here whether to do that because officers deserve to have their days off too,” Miller said.
Miller has worked on the force for 15 years and recalls when applying to wear the badge was a competition among 40 to 50 applicants.
Now, lower turnout puts more pressure on recruitment tactics.
“I think we are at the bottom of a roller coaster and I am optimistic that in the future we will see more individuals give back to the community,” Miller said.
In Radford, the police department is receiving $375,000 and plans to hire three new officers.
Though the starting salary is more than $43,000, Radford Police Chief Jeff Dodson said the competition is steep.
“The problem is right now we are all in the same race,” he said. “We are all competing for the same small pool of applicants out there.”
The officers will be added to their new community-policing unit after reviewing a public survey in May.
“They are going to be focused on community, neighborhood and business engagement,” he said. “It’s going to be a great thing for our department.”