Fourteen hopeful recruits will train during the next 19 weeks to join the largest campus police force in Virginia.
The VCU Police Department recruited 14 new sworn officers as part of the 39th Basic Academy, which began on Feb. 10. The officers were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants. VCU PD recruited the 14 officers to fill 11 vacancies. Including the hires VCU PD now has 92 officers.
Assistant vice president of public safety John Venuti said the department purposely over hired because the department losing three officers per year is likely.
“Our goal was to try to get up to full strength,” Venuti said.
Venuti said the VCU PD started an academy about a year ago and they try to have one academy per year. He said the 11 vacancies were too much for him to provide the type of service necessary. Venuti plans to retain all 14 recruits if they pass the academy.
Applicants were interviewed and had to take a written test, a fitness test and a polygraph test.
During the final stages of the selection process, the potential officers met with a clinical psychologist who took a personality assessment and job suitability assessment of each candidate.
“Finding people who want to be police officers at the VCU Police Department was our priority with this hiring process,” Venuti said. “I want officers who can navigate on the plain of prevention and education to enforcement and with the same intensity wherever they are on that spectrum.”
Andrew Hudgins, one of the new recruits, said he thinks his dedication to the VCU community helped him qualify for the position.
“I want to be right here at VCU helping (students) out,” Hudgins said.
The VCU PD’s administrative division estimates each recruit costs $35,000 to train. The cost includes training, equipment and salary, said VCU PD lieutenant William Butters.
New officers are paid their salary during training, Venuti said.
“I was convinced this was one of the best businesses to work for,” said Olushola Kayode, who is part of the 39th basic academy.
The training lasts for 19 weeks and will teach them the skills they need to know, Venuti said.
On July 13each recruit will go through a 12-week period of field training. They will ride with another officer. The new officers will work by themselves near the end of September.
“We try to focus most of our physical activity and exercises out there in the community in the presence of the students,” Venuti said.
It’s unlikely all the recruits will make it through the training, Venuti said.
“Generally it’s unusual for everyone to graduate from the academy,” Venuti said. “Hopefully everyone will graduate.”