WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- The Winston-Salem Police department is taking new steps to recruit and retain police officers.
On Wednesday, 37 new recruits quietly studied their materials, learning how to become full-fledged police officers in Winston-Salem.
The trainees will be eligible to graduate and start patrolling in April but Sgt. Verron Chue says even all those fresh faces won’t be enough.
“We are a continually growing city,” said Chue. “The only thing that's going to be able to substantiate that is having an adequate police force.”
Right now, the department needs 50 new officers to get back to full staff but Chue says it’s a difficult job to advertise in today’s climate.
“Things have happened through law enforcement and against law-enforcement that skews people's perception of what the job is actually like,” said Chue.
In an effort to recruit more officers, Winston-Salem Police Department has raised it’s starting salary for new officers.
City leaders in Winston-Salem have granted a four percent raise for officers in the last year to make the salaries more competitive with other departments.
Chue says the department is also trying to step up it’s efforts on social media.
“Everybody is updating Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter,” said Chue. “In this day in age, everything and everybody are connected to their phones.”
The department is also starting to expand its search efforts around the country.
WSPD currently has a recruitment team in Philadelphia giving presentations at job fairs and community colleges.
The department has also sent recruitment teams to upstate New York where they’ve had a lot of success.
Earlier this year, 14 new officers were sworn in to the Winston-Salem Police Department.
Of those, five came from New York.
“We are not going to be able to pay you what New York pays but our cost-of-living is a whole lot less,” said Chue. “When you put all the totality of the circumstances together, they're actually coming out even or better just to move to a nicer climate.”
Chue says the department is trying to change the public perception of law enforcement officers.
“It's one of the few jobs in the world where you can actually have an impact on your community directly every day that you come to work,” said Chue. “If that's something you're interested and looking forward to, we would love to give you the opportunity to come work for us.”
Starting salary for a new police officer in Winston-Salem is between $38-43,000 depending on the employee’s level of education completed.
For more details on how to apply to become a police officer, click here.