As Southside Police Departments Look to Diversify, Budget Shortfall Poses Other Problems

Nov 30, 2015

Credit martinsvillepolice.org

As Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring kicks off a study aimed at encouraging more minorities to enter law enforcement in the Commonwealth one of the Southside Virginia cities set to take part is dealing with severe financial problems that could make recruiting even more difficult. 

Martinsville has 51 police officers. Four of those officers are black. That number is even more striking when you consider that African-Americans make up 45% of the city's population.

That's one of the reasons Martinsville was chosen - along with neighboring Danville - as a site for the upcoming study of minority police recruitment. Police Chief Sean Dunn says he's excited about the study and what he can learn from it. But there's another problem that could potentially affect everything the chief does.

Martinsville is expecting a $3 milion shortfall next year. That's 10% of the city budget. Dunn doesn't know what that will cost the police department. But...

“We are are trying to be very creative so that we can ensure that we maintain our police force and that we are positioned so that we can ensure the safety of our citizens.”

And he says whatever happens with the budget he intends to actively pursue minority recruitment once the results of study are in.