CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston Police Department is working to fill vacant positions in several ways.

According to Sergeant Anthony Gibson, the number of vacancies in the department is currently in the 40s. That number is projected to drop to 35, with recent hires.

CPD is hoping to get even more people in the door by hosting upcoming job events. On Wednesday, there will be a CPD job fair at the Gaillard Center from 12-4 pm.

Officers will invite the community to their headquarters for an open house on April 28 from 5-8 pm. Those interested will get to meet current officers and tour the facility.

CPD’s work to fill positions has been underway since the end of 2020. Gibson said they have changed their hiring process by using data-based evidence to bring in qualified candidates. For example, they measured how successful applicants were in the hiring process. They also looked at drop-out points — when a candidate became unsuccessful.

“We partnered with a researcher and professor at Clemson and USC to determine what actually makes someone want to be a police officer,” explained Gibson. “So, that got them to the door, our process gets them through the door. Once they’re through the door, we mentor them every single step of the way.”

Based on the numbers, the department seems to be having success with the method. According to Gibson, vacancies have cut in half since the end of 2020.

According to data provided by CPD, the department had a 3.7% increase in filled positions from 2019 to 2021. On the national level, hiring during the same period went down 3.9% according to data from the Police Executive Research Forum.

According to CPD, they had 397 positions filled at the end of 2019, 401 at the end of 2020, and 412 at the end of 2021.

Officials said the department has recently switched its focus from recruitment to talent acquisition.

“We’re looking for somebody that has a heart of service. We’re looking for somebody that can make the timely and the quick and correct decisions under adverse circumstances at a near-perfect performance, “explained Gibson.

Gibson said the starting pay for new hires can range anywhere from $42,000-$62,000 based on experience and education.