More than 100 people turn out for Danville Police Department job fair

Department currently has 11 officer vacancies

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE, Va. - Nineteen-year-old Kavell Fitzgerald was one of more than 100 people who came out to the Danville Police Department's job fair Wednesday afternoon.

He has wanted to be a police officer since he was a kid.

"I just like the feeling of helping out people. It's a good feeling," Fitzgerald said.

He has already begun the application process and is currently a volunteer firefighter in Pittsylvania County.

He believes that as a young police officer he could help reduce the number of youth getting involved in crime.

"I feel if they had somebody young enough to relate to that had been in the same situation...that's what some of them need," Fitzgerald said.

Reducing youth crime continues to be a major focus for city leaders.

Last month, an 18-year-old was sentenced for a January shooting. Earlier this month an 18- and 14-year-old were arrested and charged in connection with a homicide.

Josh Craddock is 20 years old and hoping to carry on the law enforcement legacy for his family.

"It's just been in the family for a few years and I've been wanting to do this since I was seven to help the community out," Craddock said.

He admits that recent attacks on police officers scare him, but they don't stop him from wanting to become a police officer.

He believes young officers could have a positive effect on people's attitudes toward officers and, as a result, potentially prevent future attacks.

"It could help change the way people think," Craddock said.

Danville Police Department Lt. Mike Wallace said while job applications do come in to the department, they don't come in at the rate they have in the past.

"(The job is) getting competitive in that when I was hired in 1987, I had an associate degree and there weren't many in the department that had degrees. Now, to be competitive you probably should have a bachelor's degree," Wallace said.

"For the Danville area, we have a certain set of needs that we're focusing on. Of course, we'll talk about those needs (at the job fair). We're going through an uptick in violent crime," he continued.

If the department's current vacancies continue to go unfilled, cutting some services may have to be considered.

Wallace said services have been cut before because of vacancies.

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