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Charlottesville sends its most diverse class ever to police academy

The Charlottesville Police Department announced this week that it is sending its most diverse class of new officers off to the police academy.

Of the 14 new recruits, more than half are from a minority group, something Police Chief Michael Kochis said he was proud of.

“A lot of hard work by our staff went into recruiting, background investigations and hiring these new officers,” Kochis said in a statement. “This group of officers should be proud to have made it through a very thorough hiring process. We are hiring the best and brightest of those who want to serve the Charlottesville Community."

The increased diversity marks a change for a profession that has been dominated by White men. Kochis emphasized that the new staff hires are not only qualified but are diverse.

“It is important to work with and within the community to build trust. That’s one of the reasons why we are working to create a force that accurately reflects and looks like the communities we serve every day,” Kochis told The Daily Progress.

The hires come at a time of increased violence, specifically gun violence, in the Charlottesville area. A statewide crime report recently found that the city was above the statewide average for violent crime.

There have already been five homicides cases reported in Charlottesville this year, the highest since at least 2017, according to current and former law enforcement authorities.

Kochis said earlier this year that the police department is fielding an average of one shots-fired call every day in Charlottesville city limits, and his department has had limited resources to respond.

In March, Kochis told The Daily Progress the department was down about a third of its force.

After the recent recruits were announced, Kochis said he is hopeful to cut staffing shortages in the police department in half by the end of the year.

“Staffing affects everything. We are working with community partners to recruit and retain staff,” Kochis said. “My goal is to cut the staffing vacancy in half by the end of the year.”

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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