Fayetteville police say they were told to stand down during protests; cops leaving force at nearly double earlier rates

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s a problem facing police departments across the country — officers are quitting the force this year in above-average numbers.

CBS 17 is digging deeper into data provided by the Fayetteville Police Department which shows the officer turnover rate has nearly doubled this year to about 12 percent.

Police officers started the year working through COVID-19 state of emergencies, shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.

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In May, they covered protests that turned into looting, shots fired, civil unrest, arson and vandalism.

Fayetteville officers working that night say they were given orders to stand down throughout the night.

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One former officer who resigned this year said that was a big reason why he quit. He said that he felt anxiety about not being able to do his job while the city was looted and vandalised.

City leaders say they stand by their decisions that night because they put people’s lives over property.

At least 69 officers have retired or resigned so far this year.

In 2019, 51 officers retired or resigned.

From June until October of this year, 22 officers have resigned.

The number of officers leaving has increased every year over the past five years.

During the Third Quarter Review for Fayetteville City Council last night, Chief Gina V. Hawkins was asked about morale within the department.

“Morale is low. It’s a hard time. I’ve been doing this 32 years. This is definitely unprecedented times, and it’s low for a lot of different reasons. At the same time although it’s low, we are resilient. We still are motivated. We still come out. We still are excited when we help people. We still are doing our jobs, but it’s a daily commitment to say shake it off, keep going. So I can’t be more honest with you to say it’s low, it’s hard out there,” Chief Gina Hawkins said.

There are currently 74 vacant officer positions, some of which will be filled with the next police academy.

Annual starting pay for officers was increased this year to about $38,000.

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