Virginia Beach trying to cut number of vacant positions by hiring officers from other cities

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Police are going all out to get the best and brightest from other police departments and making sweet financial offers. 

The motto printed on the Virginia Beach Police Cruiser reads “Pride, Integrity, Commitment.” Now, you could add “make more money” to that as well.  

There are an estimated 100 vacancies on the Virginia Beach Police force.

“We have received permission to restructure how we hire lateral transfers from other Virginia Police Departments,“ wrote Deputy Police Chief Shannon Wichtendahl in an email to the police department.

This appears to be an opening salvo in waging an aggressive campaign to fill the vacant positions in the police department.  

“It means you are not losing any money coming over and you are plugged into the rate you were leaving behind based on your experience,” said President of the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association Brian “Lucky” Luciano about the lateral transfer.  

“A candidate with 3 years experience with the Norfolk PD would be hired at the rate of a 3-year Virginia Beach officer,“ said Deputy Chief Wichtendahl.

Luciano says Virginia Beach is basically cherry-picking the best and brightest from other departments.

“It’s competition and the spirit of competition, and that’s what I think we will see around the area reacting to this.” 

Candidates with police experience are eligible for a $5,000 hiring bonus.

“It is incentivizing people who may not be happy where they are to look at Virginia Beach now,” Luciano told us.  

There’s even more, those who refer a successful candidate will be eligible for a $1,000 referral bonus.

“I think it shows how totally desperate our police department is, and every department is saying we are thinking outside the box, getting creative, and they are offering all these incentives,” said Luciano.

Over in Norfolk, Mike McKenna who is President of the Norfolk Police Union LLC chimes in.  

“I’ll tell you right now, if Norfolk had the money, they would be doing the same thing Virginia Beach is doing, but they don’t have the money,” said McKenna. 

On the Norfolk Police Union website, there is only disgust from President Matt Watson who is angry with the city and blames the city for providing a poor work culture, pay that is less than what it should be, and benefits that need to improve.  

It’s estimated 47 Norfolk officers have already applied to Virginia Beach and 120 are in the process of doing so.     

“I can tell you members of the Norfolk Special Operations Team which is like SWAT are now applying to Virginia Beach because Virginia Beach is offering so much more money, and this is fact,” said McKenna who says the plan is working. 

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