Five new officers sworn into Charlottesville Police Department

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Police Department swore in five new officers Friday as part of an effort to fill in a major staffing shortage.

Michael Flurry, Matthew Harpine, Christopher Keplinger, Kai Zhang, and Joshua Travers got their badges pinned after more than five months in the police academy.

Flurry said this is a big step for him.

"This is actually step two in my ongoing career,” said Flurry. “So not only do I serve the National Guard, but being able to follow in my dad's footsteps and my brother as well and join law enforcement."

He said he looks forward to giving back to the Charlottesville community.

"Taking part not just in your job but also taking part in community events and really getting to know the people that live here, and see what you can do to help them,” said Flurry. “That's out of your way and I think that's worth doing."

Chief RaShall Brackney said the department still has a long way to go in its recruiting efforts.

"We're desperately needed,” said Brackney. “If we're still recruiting to the point that we're adding five, we're adding 20 more, and we're still not reaching our authorized numbers yet, it can tell you what that deficit is that we're facing on a daily basis.”

She said they are looking to over hire to prevent understaffing from happening again. They are also working hard to retain officers within the force through upward mobility.

"We're asking the officers where would they like to see themselves,” said Brackney. “What are those opportunities. What are their skills that they currently have that are not being utilized so that we can highlight those skills and use them within the agency.”

Brackney said more new officers are already getting ready to start at the police academy this July.

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