DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – This week, Durham police recruiters will be headed to Charlotte and Raleigh to recruit more officers as the number of operational vacancies climbs to 111, according to Durham police.
On Wednesday, Durham police recruiters will be working to recruit officers at the Reliant Law Enforcement Career Fair in Charlotte and Thursday, they’ll be headed to the “Recruit Military” Career Fair at the Vaughn Towers at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
This comes as Durham police said they have 87 sworn officer vacancies. However, police said if including officers in different levels of training, there are 111 operational vacancies.
Durham police sent CBS 17 a breakdown of vacancies in each bureau.
The Field Operations Department has the most vacancies, as there are 81 vacancies out of 343 allotted sworn positions.
The Investigative Services Bureau has 22 vacancies out of 147 allotted sworn positions.
Police said there are no vacancies in the Administrative Services Bureau.
To boost patrol staffing, higher-ranking officers, which includes investigators all the way up to the chief’s office, have just started filling in on patrols.
Larry Smith, spokesperson for the Durham Fraternal Order of Police, said the shortage of officers is having an impact on operations.
“The calls stack up and the cases stack up for the investigators,” Smith said.
As CBS 17 has previously reported, Durham is grappling with this shortage of officers as homicides are up and the city has averaged two shooting incidents per day.
“You have to have a good functioning and staffed police department or you’re going to have high crime, and that’s what we got right now in Durham,” Smith said.
Smith said that the shortage of officers hurts response times and clearance rates.
“Say that I’m an investigator and I’m used to carrying 20 cases, but I’m now carrying 40, what’s going to happen? The quality of the investigation is going to get compromised. There’s no way that cannot happen,” Smith said.
Next week, the Durham City Council will be voting on a pay increase that will give police recruits a 10 percent pay increase. The starting pay for Durham officers will go from $38,511 to $42,593.
If this passes, the starting pay for Durham officers will be more than Winston-Salem ($39,469), Raleigh ($41,068), and Greensboro ($41,513).
Durham city council members, like Mayor Pro Tem Mark-Anthony Middleton have spoken out in support of the pay increase.
“At our next council meeting, we’re going to cross a significant historical threshold,” Middleton said. “We’re going to catapult Durham into where it needs to be, and that’s the number one spot in terms of compensating our police and firefighters are amongst our peer cities.”
But Smith said that the “defund the police” movement and the political climate have been other factors that have led to officers leaving.
However, Smith said he thinks this pay raise will help recruit and retain more officers.
“I think it’s going to help for sure,” Smith said. “When you don’t feel like you’re being supported, you say, ‘well I could go to the next town over, I can make more money.’ But if we could get where we should be with pay, then to leave DPD, they can say ‘well, do I want to leave now and take a pay cut?’ I think time will tell on that, but it’s certainly going to help.”
The job fair in Charlotte will be Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Reliant Law Enforcement Career Fair at 5501 Carnegie Blvd.
The job fair in Raleigh will be Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the “Recruit Military” Career Fair at the Vaughan Towers at Carter-Finley Stadium.
If you are interested in a career in law enforcement at the Durham Police Department, you can apply on their website.