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Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Col. W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, gave a grim description to a legislative committee this week of the problems his agency faces.
Salaries that have not kept up with the rising cost of living — nor with the salaries officers could receive working elsewhere — are a major problem for VSP. According to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Flaherty told the legislative committee that $100 million worth of budget cuts since 2006 has contributed to a huge problem of attrition. The agency, Flaherty is reported as saying, loses about a dozen officers a month to other police departments within and outside of Virginia.
Virginia state troopers start with a salary of just $36,207, a figure that’s lower than the average starting salary of 30 state police agencies surveyed by the Virginia department, the Times-Dispatch reported.
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Clearly something needs to be done, and we hope state legislators will heed Flaherty’s desperate call for a plan to begin aiming for parity in those salaries.
But it’s good to know that there are men and women who continue to do this important work, even though they know in advance that the financial rewards are so meager.
Two local examples are Nigel A.J. Guishard and Michael D. Harville, who were among 44 new state troopers to have been commissioned this month.
Guishard, a Smithfield native, will serve the Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Suffolk areas. He wants to be a prosecutor eventually, and he believes his law enforcement experience will be helpful toward that end.
Harville, whose roots are deep in Suffolk and in law enforcement, will serve Southampton County. Harville’s father is a Suffolk Sheriff’s deputy, and his grandfather retired from the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office.
Congratulations to both new troopers. We wish them well, and we thank them for their choice to serve in an occupation that is far less financially rewarding than it should be.