Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Ira Quillen
Lynchburg, VA - The Lynchburg Police Department saw its recruitment do a 180 in the last several weeks. The job applications are rolling in, and officers say a big reason is the recent pay raise.
Remember, LPD fought long and hard for this raise, vowing they needed the pay boost to attract new officers. In June, City Council agreed, giving a $5,000 pay bump.
It's week two of training for Luther Rose with the Lynchburg Police Department. Rose and 11 others entered the force last month, making these officers the first to get the new pay raise.
"$5,000 is a big difference," we said.
"Big difference. You are right about that," said Rose smiling.
Once the new starting salary got posted, word spread that LPD is hiring and the pay has gone up. One month later, job applications doubled.
"We used to average 20-30 applicants per week. Now, we are seeing anywhere from 40-60," said Captain Ryan Zuidema.
And they aren't all green. Zuidema says he's getting applications from experienced officers at other departments in the region. Meaning, Lynchburg's competitive and surrounding departments are nervous.
Let's look at starting salaries for new officers: Bedford City pays $33,599; Amherst PD pays $34,919, and Lynchburg leads right at $35,006.40.
"We are able to offer them a salary that's attractive for them in order to leave their current position and better themselves here at Lynchburg Police Department," said Zuidema.
But it isn't the salary alone that's pulling officers to the Hill City it's also opportunity for growth. After all, Rose admits, the money is still modest. However, he says the fulfillment is rich.
"I think it's more family than the pay with us. It's more so getting the job done and making sure everyone goes home at night," said Rose.
Bedford's Police Chief admits LPD's pay raise makes him nervous. The departments are in competition with each other to get the best officers and Lynchburg just got an upper hand.