Albemarle County police are expanding recruitment efforts to find new officers to join the force. The department is hitting the airwaves around town and across the mountain to attract applicants.
A recruitment video runs before movies in theaters around Charlottesville. It's something the department first tried in southwest Virginia last year.
Now, the Albemarle County Police Department is taking its message to the radio to recruit home-grown officers. Officer Samuel Thomas is finishing up the nearly year-long recruitment and training process.
“I've been in fire and rescue ever since I was 16 years old back home where I grew up, and I wanted to continue to help the community out,” said Thomas.
The Virginia Military Institute graduate from southwest Virginia picked the department to apply for a position on the force.
“I had never even heard of the department before. Then I found it, did my research online,” said Thomas.
The department is stepping up recruitment efforts to help to make that search easier for applicants.
“By enhancing recruiting efforts, it's really helping us expanding our applicant base,” said Sergeant Tim Seitz, a recruiter for the Albemarle County Police Department.
A radio ad now airs around Charlottesville and in the Shenandoah Valley, announcing that the department is currently accepting applications for police officers.
“We've noticed people who are local that we hire have a much longer retention rate than someone from out of the area,” Seitz said.
As part of the recruitment process - which includes an obstacle course - the department tracks how new applicants hear about Albemarle.
“The last group we tested, I think one-third of applicants that showed up were actually referred to by radio advertising. So it's been very successful for us,” Seitz said.
Officer Thomas hopes to find career success wearing the Albemarle badge.
“They're very community-based and really want to get out there to help the people. That really made a huge impression on me,” said Thomas.
Radio ads are the third most successful recruiting method for the department, after officer referral and the county website.
The department expects to hire at least five new officers in the next few months. The next testing date is April 23.