VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — The effects from the pandemic will be felt for months and even years to come. Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle says his office is feeling the pressure now in the form of staff shortages.

“I’ve got to pay some deputies to come in on their off time and work,” Stolle said.

He says those overtime hours cost the citizens more money, and fewer deputies mean higher risk.

“We’re limited on the number of cases courts can hear now because we don’t have enough deputies,” Stolle said.

Stolle says they’re down about 10 percent of their budgeted sworn positions with 38 vacancies. To help widen the pool of recruits, he says they had to rethink the way they operate, so moving forward they will now hire recruits 18 years and older.

The previous age restraint was 21 by the time recruits complete basic academy.

“I took a look at that and I said there’s no reason to justify us sticking to this old policy … I think the 18- and 19-year-old’s who take this job will have a great opportunity because they can earn a living, they can go to college, we’ll pay for part of their college, and we’ll pay them when they graduate from college,” Stolle explained.

The change comes three years after the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office changed their hiring age for deputies to 18.

Stolle says this need for deputies comes as fears rise over working in a jail during the pandemic and concerns with the social unrest within the country stemming from police brutality. He says they follow all CDC guidelines, and each officer completes biased-based training.

He hopes even if you’re on the fence, you’ll come to one of their recruitment events to learn more.

Click here for hiring information.

The next testing dates for the written and physical test are March 20, April 17 and May 22, at the Law Enforcement Training Academy off Integrity Way in Virginia Beach.

Here’s the process to apply:

  1. Submit an application at ( will get them to the same place, they just have to search for the position).
  2. Pass the written and physical ability tests (details on the website).
  3. Complete and notarize the Personal History Questionnaire (on the website).
  4. Pass the background investigation and the physical and psychological evaluation.
  5. Start your career in public safety