DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham city leaders say administrative staff members are working on a proposal to increase police officer pay. They’re aiming to present a proposal to the city manager by the end of October.
City officials told CBS 17 in an email Thursday morning that administrative staff is working on a market study where they are reviewing the pay of comparable, peer cities. They are reviewing this data now and will work with an HR consultant to develop a proposal.
This comes as deadly shootings are up 32 percent in Durham in 2021. Thirty-two people have been killed, 198 people have been shot, and there have been 579 shooting incidents.
Durham police officers are responding to these incidents with fewer officers than last year. According to a quarterly crime report presented by Interim Chief Shari Montgomery, in June 2020 the department had 39 vacancies. According to recent data from police, the department now has 69 vacancies.
However, the Durham County Fraternal Order of Police said there are 90 vacancies, and that there will be 97 vacancies as of Oct. 1.
A spokesperson with the FOP said eight officers leave the Durham Police Department every month.
“The biggest issue that we face is competitive wages,” Montgomery said.
According to the city of Durham’s website, starting police recruits make $38,511.
While Durham police officers make more than Roxboro ($36,278) officers, Durham is still lagging behind the cities of Greensboro ($41,513), Raleigh ($42,300), Hillsborough ($43,227), Holly Springs ($47,932), Wake Forest ($50,243), and Cary ($51,000).
“We lose a lot to all other agencies, because we’re just not competitive,” said Montgomery said.
Montgomery said during Thursday afternoon’s city council work session that some officers are working overtime to cover shifts, but they are still down officers on some shifts. It has led to slower police response times.
According to data Montgomery presented during the city council work session, their average response time for priority 1 calls is 18 seconds slower than their goal.
“We don’t have as many cars available or staffing available,” Montgomery said.
A spokesperson with the Durham County FOP said in an email that due to low staffing, some police officers may have to run from call to call for the entire 12-hour shift.
The FOP said this doesn’t allow them to take a break or have very much down time which takes a toll on them mentally and physically.
The FOP said it’s crucial to raise officer pay so they don’t lose any more officers to other agencies and that they think officer pay should be raised by 10 percent to compete with the other agencies.