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Waynesboro’s new police chief describes first month as hectic, but enjoys job

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:11 PM EST
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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - Waynesboro’s new police chief is one month into his job. With a couple of big winter storms and a surge in COVID-19 cases, he describes it as hectic, but there are other challenges ahead.

Chief David Shaw stepped into his new role at the end of 2021 with 20 years of experience rising in the ranks at the Waynesboro Police Department.

Shaw says one of the biggest issues he faces is filling shifts - right now, the department is down nine officers. That’s more than 20% of the total officers.

The chief adds that mental health calls and patient transfers are time-consuming, and paperwork logs have increased with courts back online.

There is also the constant struggle of trying to get officers time off to avoid burnout.

Shaw says a lot of these issues are industry-wide: “Police work is still not very popular, especially compared with pay that people can get in the private sector,” he said. “So we’re having to come up with different ways of recruitment and retention.”

Another challenge at WPD is the age of officers: the majority have fewer than five years of experience, and Chief Shaw says it takes time to learn the job.

Shaw’s predecessor, former-Chief Michael Wilhelm, left the role after he was promoted to a different position with the city as Assistant City Manager of Public Safety. Wilhelm served the Waynesboro Police Department for 26 years.

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