CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officer recruitment is one of the first priorities on Charleston’s new Chief of Police, Scott Dempsey’s agenda after he was officially appointed to the position last week.

Dempsey came on 580 Live with Dave Allen Tuesday to discuss the recruitment and retention efforts he and also newly-appointed Deputy Chief of Police, Jason Webb plan to carry forth for the department going forward.

He said currently they have about 161 officers serving on the force, but it is slotted for 173, so they have a total of 12 vacant spots which Dempsey said are ready to be filled immediately.

Scott Dempsey

Going out into the community and speaking at various events is one of the routes Dempsey said they plan to take in their effort to boost officer recruitment, however, in the meantime, he encourages anyone looking for a career to reach out and talk to him. He said they are specifically trying to recruit young people who are qualified and up for the challenge.

Dempsey said while it’s no easy job, the support they receive from the city makes it all worth it.

“We feel very supported here in the City of Charleston, the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and all of the staff, are very supportive of us, and you see across the nation city governments now really supporting their police departments very well sometimes, we do not have that here,” said Dempsey.

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, police officer recruitment numbers have been at an all-time low nationwide, dropping from over 83,000 in Jan. 2020 to under 80,000 in 2023, according to a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum. However, the study also shows that recruitment is slowly making a rebound.

Dempsey said as an officer in the state’s largest city, they would most likely be doing in one year what a normal officer out in the county or other municipality would do in their entire career.

He said while they are faced with a number of challenges in certain parts of the city, Charleston officers are highly trained and very well-versed in crime reduction efforts. Dempsey added, however, that the many challenges with the job also come with many rewards.

“There are great things that happens being a Charleston Police Officer, it’s a very rewarding career,” he said. “We see the best in people, sometimes we see the worst, but mostly we see the best in people.”

Dempsey said some requirements to be an officer for the city include a GED or high school diploma, a clean background, and applicants must be able to pass a GED-equivilent written exam, as well as a physical exam.

He said the physical portion of the test involves doing a certain number of push-ups and sit-ups within a set time limit, in addition to running a mile and a half within a little under 14 minutes.

Dempsey said a major aspect of the job will be simply maintaining a good relationship with the community they serve.

“To build that trust, they have to see that we have integrity, they have to see that we’re transparent, they have to see that we’re honest, and that we provide the best public safety experience that we can,” he said.

Dempsey said they will hold a written/ physical test for recruitment on April 6. He said to call the Charleston PD Training Division at (304)348-1091 for an application.