CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County is making public safety a top priority in 2018.
The county is struggling to keep both the police department and sheriff’s office fully staffed. So, in the FY2018 proposed budget, they are trying to target the underlying reasons for so many officers leaving.
“It’s the vacancies that we have today that we need to fill with qualified people,” said County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey.
Chesterfield County officials said it is a combination of more officers leaving and fewer people applying that is causing problems in public safety.
Their first priority will be recruitment.
“We need to position our budget to have the starting salaries, to have the programs, to have the benefits, to have the career development potential for a police officer,” Dr. Casey added.
It is not just hiring new officers, but also keeping them around by offering career development programs.
“We want to make sure that they stay here,” said Matt Harris, Director of Budget and Management. And the time and effort we’ve got invested in them we get a good return on that investment.”
While not adding any positions, they are finding new ways to get more men and women on the streets.
“We’re going to be hiring civilian part time people to man the office space,” Dr. Casey said. “While our sworn officers, as many of them as possible, can be out there to serve the people and be on the front lines.”
The county said not only do they want to get enough people, but they want to hire the right people.
“The profession needs the ethics of a police officer and we will not lower our standards down no matter how many vacancies we have,” Dr. Casey said.
The proposed budget also includes funding for 24-hour nursing coverage in the jail and getting body cameras for the police department.
The budget will officially be presented next Wednesday.