RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University’s Police Department is looking to hire more officers.

Assistant Police Chief Ervin Taylor said the department has 95 sworn officers, but they still need to fill ten positions. He said they are also looking to hire emergency communications officers.

Taylor said they hold a police academy at least once a year, depending on how their staffing is. VCU’s 48th police academy will begin next May in 2023. He also acknowledged that many police departments across the country are struggling with recruitment.

“In law enforcement, there has been a decline nationally and I think the application pools have declined a lot,” Taylor told 8News. “However, here at VCU we’ve been strong with our application pool and we’ve been successful in getting qualified officers.”

Twelve officers joined the VCU Police Department in February 2022.

Taylor said that the way officers conduct themselves, the evolution of new technology over the years, as well as the department’s programs help maintain a safe and secure campus.

“You’ll see any officer walking the street wearing body-worn cameras. Even though we have untraditional borders we focus our primary resources on our core campus,” Taylor said.

One of the department’s newest initiatives, “Whistles Against Street Harassment,” launched at the end of September. Officers involved with the initiative hand out whistles on the university’s campus so people can ‘interrupt’ or draw attention to any possible harassment in public.

VCU police also work closely with the Richmond Police Department. “Richmond assists us whenever VCU’s police department exceeds our resources,” Taylor said.

City leaders have a number of gun violence prevention initiatives to reduce crime in Richmond.

On Friday, Oct. 7, the city announced a $1.9 million grant from the United States Department of Justice. The money was announced following a recent uptick in teenage gun violence in Richmond and will go toward the city’s Youth Shape the Future program. Part of that grant will also fund VCU’s three-year evaluation of the city’s gun violence prevention initiatives.

Meanwhile, Taylor said he hopes their recruitment is just as successful as their commitment to safety.

“We’re very committed to the students’ safety and our staff, faculty and visitors on our campus,” he said.

Anyone interested in joining the department can apply or learn more here.