VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach is upping the ante for certified police officers willing to leave their departments and work for them instead.
According to an internal department email News 3 obtained, current Virginia officers can jump ship and come to Virginia Beach without losing their prior years of experience and the pay that comes with it.
For example, after successfully completing a written exam, an officer with five years of experience in their department will get paid the same as a Virginia Beach officer with five years on the job.
Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association President Brian Luciano said it’s one step in the right direction.
“It’s more enticing for them to come here. We can get them on the street quicker because they're certified through Virginia DCJS. That's going to get more officers on the street to help the citizens here in Virginia Beach,” said Luciano.
The Virginia Beach Police Department has a new starting salary of $51,000 for current Virginia DCJS-certified officers, which they say is the highest in the region.
Additionally, officers with experience are eligible for a $5,000 hiring bonus and a $1,000 referral bonus has been reinstated.
Luciano says the department has been down around 100-125 officers for years.
“Clearly we have to do something different, because the old way of doing business clearly was not working,” he said.
The department recently announced it will go to Richmond on July 27 so certified officers in the area can take the Virginia Beach Police Department's test.
“Historically, other jurisdictions have cherry-picked our officers, including the federal government. I'm happy to see that we're finally offering a competitive package,” said Luciano.
Luciano believes these new efforts will help close the gap in openings, but he says better pay and health benefits for all officers is a necessary move.
“I think we've seen with incidents at the Oceanfront and throughout the rest of the city, we need to be prepared. We can't contract to a level that becomes dangerous and then hope, you know, keep our fingers crossed that something bad won't happen,” he said.
On July 21 the "Norfolk Police Union IBPO Local 412" posted on Facebook and said there will be no raises offered in a "package" mentioned that will be offered, according to the post. It went on to say, "That's a very strange way of trying to keep you here. You will be receiving (who knows when) a one time bonus check of between 20-25k. I believe it's based on years of service. You can make your own decisions on that. For a lot of us we are 25k a year behind our direct counterparts in VBPD So the message I feel like I was told was sell yourself for a year of what you would be making every year one jurisdiction over.
It's not all bad news though there will be some other benefits that will be positive and again once I have a complete and solid understanding of what it all consists of I will put it out here. You all can make an informed decision based on what's best for you and your family," the post said.