RICHMOND, Va. -- Finding and retaining quality workers has not just been an issue for restaurants and entertainment venues reopening from the pandemic.
Richmond Sheriff Antionette Irving said it has been a challenge hiring sheriff's deputies for the Richmond City Justice Center as well. Her department has 110 vacancies.
"As you know, we've had unrest, we have had COVID, the pandemic. We have a lot of different things going on, that we have to compete with, to ensure that individuals feel safe and are able to do the job," Richmond Sheriff Antionette Irving said.
Irving, who is running for re-election in 2021, said the number of open jobs is a concern. While the office has hired 281 people since 2018, it has lost 293 people through retirement, resignation, or termination.
For some, she said, it comes down to money.
"A lot of our people that haven't been here two years are leaving and going to other agencies, especially police departments or other sheriff's offices making eight to ten percent more than what we make now," she said. "We are working to improve that one through our salaries. As of July 1, our salary will increase."
She said she hoped offering enhanced training, salary incentives, and finding funding for overtime will be enough to attract more workers.
"We want to make sure that the job gets done, and we want them to be safe," she said. "We want them to believe that the job they're doing is important. It's important enough to for us to do the job beside them. We have civilian staff is in the building as well, we want to make sure that they can feel safe in the environment."
Training deputies can cost $10,000 or more. Sheriff Irving said if a worker leaves for another agency before completing a certain time in Richmond, the sheriff's department can recoup that money from the employee.