NORFOLK, Va. - Shortly after city council members approved a budget, the Norfolk Police Department took to Twitter to tout the new starting salary for police of more than $50,000 per year.
The starting salary is increasing by more than $7,000 once an officer graduates from the academy. Other officers are moving up a pay rank, so they'll see about an 8% increase.
"This new starting salary is hopefully going to peak the interest of individuals who are maybe on the fence of joining law enforcement," said Norfolk Police Sgt. Will Pickering.
In Virginia Beach, the city council approved an 8.5% pay increase for police.
"I think that they sent the clear message to the officers that their work is appreciated, that they understand what we've been going through and that they're willing to fix it," said Brian Luciano, the president of the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association.
Luciano has been sounding the alarm about retention and pay for years in the city. In March, the department reported more than 90 officer openings.
"I think it makes us more competitive in our area, where officers who may be considering leaving to go to other localities in our neighboring cities would choose to stay," said Luciano.
It's a similar story in Norfolk, where Pickering says the department has more than 140 vacancies. That is not uncommon to what law enforcement agencies around the country are seeing.
"I strongly encourage people to look at law enforcement as a potential employment opportunity," said Pickering. "We are going in the right direction. We are getting better every day, but it takes the right people to do this job."
Right now, it's a tough climate to be in law enforcement. Both Luciano and Pickering are happy with the message these raises send to police.
"I think it sends the message that the officers are appreciated and they understand what they went through and that we were able to demonstrate the need for this," said Luciano.
"It illustrates and shows the value that they have for their law enforcement. They understand we need good woman and men to respond to calls for service," said Pickering.