VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood is pushing to create his own police academy and fill it with qualified people.
He said it’s been a struggle to find the right person for the job and he hopes signing bonuses will help attract them. The money is being pulled from the almost 40 vacant positions, according to Chitwood.
“We’re really looking for the cream of the crop. If you have 10 years of service in another organization and you want to come to work here, you’re looking at a $7,000 signing bonus. We also have signing bonuses that are prorated,” Chitwood said.
Right now, the sheriff said they recruit from Daytona State College. However, he believes his own academy will not only provide the state-mandated curriculum but something else the college simply can’t offer, which is the culture, policy, and procedures that represent the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff said all deputies in training will learn everything from de-escalation training to cultural awareness.
“From day one, we want our recruits to know about implicit bias. We want them to know about race and policing because it’s there. You can’t deny it. I can teach you to shoot. I can’t teach you to be a good person,” he said.
The sheriff said he’s now waiting for the Criminal Justice of Standards and Training Commission to give the green light so they can open by February.
“I want to be able to pay them a good wage. I want to be able to give them good benefits and I want them to start knowing this is how we do things in Volusia County and it pays dividends in the end,” he said.