DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham County Sheriff’s Office welcomed 14 new deputies Thursday afternoon as they graduated from the agency’s 44th Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy.
The class of 14 cadets underwent 880 hours of law enforcement training and will start working as deputies next month.
These deputies are joining the Durham County Sheriff’s Office at a time when the agency is experiencing a shortage of both deputies and detention officers.
According to DSCO officials, 22 percent of the deputy and detention officer positions in the Durham County Sheriff’s Office are vacant.
The latest data CBS 17 obtained from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office showed there are 30 deputy vacancies in Durham County and 87 detention officer vacancies.
“It’s straining all of us completely,” said Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead. “Every county I talk to is experiencing the same shortage and it’s all relative.”
Birkhead said deputies are still having to work mandatory shifts at the jail once a month to make up for the shortage of detention officers.
“Being this short of staffing, we’ve had to move some training around and make sure we cover some shifts at the jail and our shifts on the street without compromising the service to our community,” Birkhead said.
Birkhead said they are constantly recruiting, and they are hoping a raise just approved by county commissioners will help recruit more deputies and detention officers.
With this raise, the starting pay for deputies will be almost $47,000 and detention officers will make a little more than $46,000. In addition, Birkhead said they will also get a $6,000 signing bonus.
“I’m starting to see the curb bend toward more applicants, we’re getting more applicants every day and we’re screening them and hopefully we’ll have enough to start our next Academy with 20 cadets,” Birkhead said.
Clifford Nicholson is one of the 14 cadets who became a deputy on Thursday.
“I guess I can say now it feels good to help out my brothers and sisters,” Nicholson said.
At a time where law enforcement agencies are having a hard time filling these positions, Nicholson said he’s glad to step up and serve his community.
“Even with some of the bad publicity that’s going on across the nation that’s impacted law enforcement, it drives you a little bit more,” Nicholson said. “You want to do better, you want to be the good example for the citizens.”
The next training academy will be start sometime in October.
To apply for a deputy or detention officer position with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, click here.