VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - News 3 got an inside look at how Virginia Beach Police are recruiting and training their new officers.
Recently, Paul Neudigate, the Chief of the Virginia Beach Police Department, said there has been an issue with manpower in the department.
“We are down 100 officers, but really a city of this size needs 150 to 200 officers,” said Chief Neudigate.
Neudigate gave the statistics on March 30 when he addressed city council during a special session after the Oceanfront shootings that left two people dead and eight others injured.
Tuesday, News 3 was invited to come out while the police department's recruits were being trained on arrest custody scenarios at the Creeds Police Training Facility, which is one of several places the recruits come to learn.
The current class has 32 recruits. They started at the end of January and finish in July. They will then continue to training on the streets, working with officers in the field.
The recruits learn a wide variety of different skills and techniques. They are also required to meet physical requirements.
Lt. Michele Meister is the Training Director for the Virginia Beach Police Department.
Meister said they have implemented an overhaul of the recruiting process and said they hope to have 50 recruits or more in the academy in July.
News 3 spoke to one recruit, Luis Leon, who said he used to work as a Chesapeake deputy.
“I want to be a person of trust for the public, and just know that I am making that difference every day,” said Recruit Leon.
28-year-old Leon said he comes from a long line of police and military on his dad’s side.
“It is how I was brought up and raised,” said Leon. “It’s just in my blood.”
Lt. Meister said COVID-19 has forced the department to use technology and find new ways recruit new officers.
She said they also are trying to find ways to retain quality officers they have in the department and are working with city council on how to incentivize people to stay on the force.
She said the current scrutiny that police are under has brought about people who truly want to be police officers and serve the community.
“What I’m seeing in these interviews is that people want to do the job so they can make a difference in their community,” said Meister.
If you're interested in a career with VBPD, click here.