NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side sat down for an exclusive interview with Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer to discuss the future of the Norfolk Police Department amid several changes.

Many changes come at a time when the department is experiencing a number of challenges including officer shortages, retention troubles and a search for the next police chief.

As they try to remedy challenges, Filer says he’s focused on the future.

“This is going to be a progressive policing department,” said Filer. “We are not going backward in this department.”

He says part of the solution to overcoming challenges lies with collaboration.

“We’re working with the Center for Policing Equity,” he said. “CPE is helping us think about actual metrics and measures for community policing and then also how do you incorporate that into merit-based pay raises and promotion.”

Pay and the work environment are two challenges city leaders have had to address to improve retention within their ranks.

“The council has spent the last two years aggressively trying to address pay differentials between the Norfolk Police Department and other departments both in the region and across the state,” said Filer.

To address low recruitment, Filer says they started a large-scale, nationwide marketing campaign.

“We do believe that we have a distinct advantage at attracting officers that have been with extremely large police forces in cities like New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle, that maybe would like to take a bit of a step back,” he said.

So far, he says it’s working. Filer says recruitment is up threefold compared to the last two years, but he says the department isn’t down by as many officers as previously reported.

During last Tuesday’s city council meeting, Interim Police Chief Mike Goldsmith says Norfolk Police retirees are being asked to join the force again to help supplement the department’s short staffing.

The department is budgeted for 775 officers, but he says the department typically isn’t at full capacity.

“This department functions well at 680 to 690 officers. So in this period of time right now, we are about 120 officers away from that number,” he said.

As previously reported, officers will take on a hybrid approach as they restructure the department.

“Most of the restructuring, in order to enhance patrolling, is taking people off of dedicated, task force and specialized unit activity. So now they’re doing both,” said Filer.

The biggest position they need to fill is the chief of police.

Filer says they just started the search. Part of the process involves a search firm speaking to council members and holding public town halls for citizen input. Overall, Filer says they want a large and diverse pool of internal and external candidates.

“I can assure all of the men and women in the Norfolk Police Department that the next chief is only going to move this department forward. We are not going backward,” said Filer.

As far as when they may get a new chief, Filer says they’re currently on track to have them hired by early to mid-October.