Charlottesville Police directing non-emergency calls to online portal

Charlottesville police (FILE)
Charlottesville police (FILE)
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 10:35 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville police are reminding people about some changes if you need to report a minor crime. Certain calls for service need to be reported online, due to the department’s staffing shortage -- a 27% vacancy of uniformed officers.

“They’re experiencing such high volumes of workload because they’re trying to make up for that lack in staffing,” said Charlottesville Public Safety Information Officer Kyle Ervin.

Calls about vandalism, littering, lost property and fraud phone calls will be sent to the police department’s online portal. Not everyone who completes an online report will get a callback, but the reports will be reviewed.

“This is not going to impact the safety of our citizens whatsoever. This is just an effort to move the service calls to the online portion to make it easier for officers to complete all their work,” Ervin said.

Charlottesville City Counselor Michael Payne says what’s key is maintaining the same level of safety.

“The critical thing we have to look at is ensuring that shootings and violent crime can be responded to, and that those are crimes that can be solved and we’re not seeing the clearance rate collapse, like it’s happened in some other cities,” Payne said.

He also attributes these staffing problems to low salaries.

“I think it really just comes down to the fact that our pay is lower than the pay of UVA and surrounding localities. As a result, combined with a national shortage of municipal employees, you get that shortage,” Payne said.

The department is now using a financial incentive to try to attract more officers.

“New recruits to the force will receive $6,000 as a sign-on bonus, and certified officers will receive $12,000 as a sign-on bonus. So that’s new information -- a little incentive to join,” Ervin said.

Still, Payne says he wants to make sure the department is attracting the right people.

“If we’re not able to hire anyone, we can’t just start hiring people who couldn’t get hired anywhere else. And we haven’t been doing that. But if you look across the country, there are departments who have done that, and we really need to avoid that,” Payne said.

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