Police seek fresh faces, new recruits after retirements

srobertsjr@vagazette.com

As older officers retired from the police force and other officers have found jobs elsewhere, the three police departments that serve Greater Williamsburg are hiring.

Three retirements in the year and a half, as well as a lengthy interview process for new hires, have pushed the Williamsburg Police Department to step up recruitment efforts, according to Williamsburg Police Department spokesman Maj. Greg Riley.

“There has been an unprecedented amount of retirements in the last year and a half, including our former police chief,” Riley said.

Since former police chief David Sloggie’s retirement from the force in late 2016, other officers have made their way out of the 41-officer-department, Riley said.

In James City County, the roughly 100-officer-department is just like any other large employer — it always has an opening for something, according to James City County Police Department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams.

“With a sworn force of more than a hundred people, there will be turnover whether through retirements, career changes, moves, etc.,” Williams said. “Although we use numerous methods in an attempt to reach a number of qualified applicants, we are still challenged.”

For the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office, the problem has been officers aging out of the force, according to spokeswoman Shelley Ward.

“It hasn’t been difficult to retain deputies,” Ward said. “We have lost most of ours to retirements. Of course, there are always a few who decide that this isn’t the right career for them or want to transfer to a different jurisdiction.”

The question remains, what does it take to be a police officer?

Departments are looking for proactive men and women who can work long shifts and do not have any disqualifiers such as a bad driving record, criminal convictions that show moral weakness, a history of drug use or a dishonorable discharge from the armed services.

While it’s often desired, law enforcement experience is not necessary for some recruit positions. What is required is a high school diploma or a GED.

“We want to make sure first of all that we’re getting good quality people,” Riley said. It’s important to pick people with moral authority and integrity.

“We do worry about our officers' integrity — (a recruit) getting into a job where there’s the ability to take advantage of people,” Riley said.

The hiring process is lengthy, starting with an initial employment application review, driving record check and basic criminal history checks.

Later, potential recruits could be interviewed by a panel of current officers before they’re investigated with a polygraph test, local criminal history checks, character references and credit history checks.

After that, a recruit could receive an offer of employment, but the hiring process isn’t over.

There’s a personality profile, fitness assessment and a physical with a drug test.

The process so far takes about six weeks, sometimes more, according to Williams.

Then a new recruit without any experience must successfully complete academy training standards by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Want to know more?

Find out more information on police work at bit.ly/2Rx7jPV, bit.ly/2xYYqpW and bit.ly/2pDper7.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329 or on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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