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Nine deputy sheriffs graduated from basic academy Thursday, with a newly added proficiency in search-and-rescue techniques.
The commencement capped a 16-week basic training program for the deputies, which, for the first time, included a search-and-rescue course at the Virginia Beach Fire & EMS Training Center. The Virginia Beach Sherriff’s Office added search and rescue to the curriculum so deputies can provide back-up to the Virginia Beach Fire Department during an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a building collapse, according to a release.
“It’s obviously great for us,” Kathy Hieatt, public information officer for VBSO, said in a phone interview earlier this week. “It is pretty rigorous training.”
The graduates included three members of the military service, a former auxiliary sergeant with the New York Police Department, a pastry chef, a former college football coach, a former stay-at-home mom and a breeder of Goldendoodles, the release said.
In his commencement address, City Manager Dave Hansen thanked the graduates for joining law enforcement and cited the demands and potential rewards of the career.
“The training you’ve received is among the best in the industry and the standards you have met are stringent for a reason: so you are prepared to take on the challenges of your new position as a deputy with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office and safely return to your families and loved ones at the end of each and every shift,” Hansen told the graduates, according to the release.
The new deputies will help fill some of the 15 VBSO slots approved by City Council for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2016, Hieatt said in an email earlier this week. Having survived the hiring process — 206 people applied during the previous fiscal year and only 64 were hired — they will be assigned to the City’s correctional center, the release said.
VBSO is currently accepting applications for entry-level deputy sheriffs, according to a posting on its website. The position pays $41,259. Applicants must be 21 years old by the time they graduate from the academy, must be in excellent physical shape and must be available for 12-hour shifts, including days, nights, weekends and holidays, according to the job announcement.
Duties at the jail include supervising inmates, recreation, food service and work assignments, as well as “[m]anaging inmate behavior and using appropriate force as necessary.” New hires must also successfully complete the basic academy within 12 months of appointment, including academic, physical and firearms training, the announcement says.
The staffing comes on the heels of a two-year, $10 million funding increase for VBSO, according to the city’s fiscal year 2016-2017 budget. “Funding has been provided to increase support, replace back office computers, and update video visitation systems,” the budget says. “In addition, this funding provides additional staffing to meet critical needs related to medical support to inmates and security concerns within the Correction Center.”
VBSO’s hiring is part of a process to relieve some of the pressure on existing staff, not a “security deficit” in the jail, Hieatt said in a phone interview Thursday.
“We always have to be looking at ways to improve things,” she said.