RICHMOND, Va. -- Former superintendent of the Virginia State Police, Wayne Huggins describes the department’s current staffing shortage as the worst he’s seen.
"It's about as bad as I've seen it in recent years, well perhaps ever," he said.
After Governor Terry McAuliffe announced in August that a three percent raise would not happen this year due to state revenue shortfalls, employees are leaving in droves.
Huggins said the department has around 222 vacancies in the field.
“We had nine resignations in one day," said Huggins who now serves as Executive Director of Virginia State Police Association.
We met with to him regarding a recent memo current superintendent, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty wrote to his employees back on September 16.
The memo states that in the first nine month of this year, 103 sworn and 121 civilian employees have left the department. It also says since February of 2016 the department has experienced a 48.5% decrease in trooper applications.
“It's leaving areas around the state extremely shorthanded. Which means the troopers who are left are working these exorbitant number of hours of overtime,” he said. “They don't get paid for those, they get comp time and if they don't use it within a year of the date they accrued it they lose it.”
Huggins said a lot of the time the troopers do lose the time.
This is something he says lowers morale considering the starting pay for Virginia State Police is just over $36,000.
That makes it one of the lowest police salaries in the commonwealth compared to Richmond and Henrico police departments. It's almost $5,000 less the Hanover Country's Sheriff's Office.
"Since this problem has been exposed, since it's been out in the public eye, that they'll be a response to the problem,” said Huggins.
He said the solution is not just giving the employees a pay raise, rather they need another source of funding.
Huggins said the department needs a permanent source of funding that doesn't compete with the rest of state’s general funding for budget resources.