RICHMOND, Va. -- A shortage of sworn police officers across the country might be causing headaches for police chiefs and sheriffs but Richmond Police say they’re seeing more applications from people looking for a second career.
The department added 15 new officers to its ranks Thursday morning in a graduation ceremony held on the campus of Virginia Union University.
In one of its most diverse classes in recent memory, the new officers span decades in age, ethnicities, and a wide range of previous professional experience. One worked as a teacher; another left his job as geese herder to enroll at the police academy; and one class member is a retired professional basketball player.
“Welcome family, friends, past and present members of the VCU Men’s Basketball program. Thank you for being here,” joked the 124th Recruit Class speaker.
Former VCU basketball player Jordan Burgess swore in for his second career after successfully completing 32 weeks of training.
“Maybe I can be a vessel of change,” Jordan Burgess told CBS 6 of his new job in law enforcement. “People see me out in the streets they know I’m just a regular person. I just happen to be wearing a uniform this time.”
His blue uniform is certainly different from the black and gold he used to sport during his March Madness days. Brother, and fellow VCU great, Bradford Burgess is currently working for the Chicago Bulls but flew home for the ceremony. He says it’s not an easy time to work in law enforcement, but he knows Officer Burgess understands how to work under pressure.
“He's just going to just approach everything in the right way and handle it in a manner that's respectful,” said the elder Burgess. “He’s going to make sure all parties can come out better from the situation.”
The Burgess parents, Keith and Myla, echoed the sentiment, saying Jordan’s capacity to empathize with others will serve him well on the force.
“He’s going to be great at it. He’s the person,” said Myla Burgess. “He is THE person that you want to see policing the City of Richmond.”
Richmond Police need quite a few more officer candidates to join their ranks. The city is looking to hire 137 new police officers to its 618 sworn personnel. Officials say an aging police force resulted in many retirements the last few years. The shortage was then exacerbated by the pandemic and the need to rethink their recruiting strategies.
Perhaps one positive impact of the turmoil amongst law enforcement agencies around the country is the number of recruits RPD reports switching careers because they’ve felt called to serve their communities. The hope is that diverse backgrounds and experiences will translate to a force capable of building stronger bonds in every neighborhood they patrol.
A new training academy begins in April, and another will be hired before the Fall. To apply for those positions, you can visit Richmond.gov.
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