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Harrisonburg Police Department dealing with understaffing

Harrisonburg Police Department patrol car
Harrisonburg Police Department patrol car(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 7:49 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Harrisonburg Police Department continues to deal with staffing issues. When fully staffed, the department has 112 officers, but currently has less than 90.

“For operating procedures right now it is taxing us. It’s preventing us from doing a little of the extra things that the residents of Harrisonburg have become used to seeing around the department,” said Harrisonburg Police Chief Kelley Warner.

Because of understaffing HPD has had to redirect personnel, like its traffic unit which handles traffic complaints.

“Instead of just having those officers handling those complaints they are sent into the patrol division to supplement our calls for service which is unfortunate,” said Warner.

The problem is not unique to Harrisonburg as departments across the state face shortages, which has made the hiring market for officers very competitive.

“We’ve lost about 13 officers since I arrived in July and mostly it’s because the officers have seen opportunities elsewhere to receive greater compensation,” said Warner.

HPD has made efforts to ramp up recruiting like offering a $6,000 bonus at the completion of a newly hired officer’s third year.

“We’ve done some unique recruiting ideas, soon you will see some pictures of Harrisonburg police officers on the side of our city buses and ways to try to bring folks on board,” said Warner.

HPD is also looking to the community to try to find new recruits.

“We’ve just partnered with James Madison University. We were down recruiting on their campus just recently, so we’re trying unique ways to get into our community and we look to do that in the future,” said Warner.

Chief Warner urges anyone interested in serving the public to reach out through the city’s website.

“Many people don’t even think of themselves to be a police officer. They think they have to have a certain physical fitness or they have to have some sort of predisposed disposition to be a police officer and that’s actually not the case. Just having good solid common sense is all you really need,” she said.

You can apply to join the Harrisonburg Police Department here.

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