Some Concerned About Police Shortage in Waynesboro

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) -- Waynesboro police are working to keep communities safe while the department deals with a shortage of police officers.

One concern is paying officers what they need to stay and serve.

Tommy Lawhorne, the co-owner of the South River Fly Shop, said he feels safe here, but he's noticed police officers leaving the river city.

"Make sure that they're being paid enough that they want to come and serve this community they want to stay here. I think a lot of them do, but you got bills to pay and family's to feed, you've gotta look at where you get paid," said Lawhorne.

Claudia McNeil, a manager at Rudy's Cleaners, now uses a new cash register because someone took the original one, along with the cash inside, during a break-in on Tuesday.

"Went through the building, he cleared it, he took care of it pretty fast, in a very good manner, he was a very nice cop," said McNeil.

In Waynesboro, six businesses shave been broken into in less than two weeks.

At Rudy's now that window is repaired, the business made other changes as well.

After the break-in, workers have rearranged the counter and the cash register so that it's now further back from the window. Even so, they still have some safety concerns.

Twenty-eight officers have left in five years, according to Michael Hamp, the city manager.

40 to 50 percent of them have moved on as officers elsewhere.

"Officers should get paid more, because they put their life in jeopardy everyday for us," said McNeil.

"Guys are short staffed and they're working a lot of hours, and you can't be everywhere all the time," said Lawhorne.

"Response, enforcement, investigation have not suffered as a result of that. They're working very hard, they're extremely productive," said Hamp

Hamp is working with the police chief to come up with a plan so that officers won't be stretched too thin.

Hamp is looking at other cities to compare wages and benefit plans and plans to present a recommendation to city council that could affect the budget in the near future.


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