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Lynchburg Police Department looks to add 26 officer positions to force

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:51 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Responding to calls remains a top priority at the Lynchburg Police Department.

Now, after a year-long assessment, the department looks to expand its force.

“We’ve heard a lot from our community over the last several months, and we’re going to continue to evolve as a police department like we have for many, many years, and this is a part of that,” said Ryan Zuidema, Lynchburg police chief.

Zuidema asked city council Tuesday to put more funding toward the police department.

In the assessment, the department noted that since 2010, Lynchburg’s population has grown 14 percent.

In that same time, the LPD has only grown two percent.

As a result, the department looks to add 26 police officer positions over the next five years.

“Obviously with additional residents, and additional visitors, and additional college students and commuters, there’s a greater demand for police services, so we want to make sure that our staff has the capacity to meet that need,” said Zuidema.

That need also calls to engage with the community more in what the department calls unaccounted time, or time not spent directly related to a call.

Zuidema calls the time critical to build trust with the community.

“That unaccounted time is time that allows our officers first and foremost to engage our community, build those relationships one-on-one, build that trust in our community. It also allows our officers to do proactive patrols,” said Zuidema.

LPD also looks to add about 16 non-sworn positions in that same five-year period.

Zuidema says while it might not be clear yet how much adding those positions will cost, about 85 percent of the department’s current budget of $18 million goes toward salaries and benefits.

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