DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham County Fraternal Order of Police said just a little more than half of the police department’s positions were staffed on some nights over the weekend when multiple people were shot in Durham.
A spokesman for the FOP released numbers to CBS 17 that showed on Saturday night, only 59 percent of the officer positions were staffed. That included officers working overtime shifts.
That night, there was a deadly shooting at 6:20 p.m. on Hardee Street. Just four hours later, there was a drive-by shooting on Liberty Street where a woman was shot.
On Friday night, the FOP said 66 percent of positions were staffed. On Sunday night, 61 percent of positions were staffed, including officers taking on extra shifts.
“Sometime back, we would be concerned if staffing levels were below 75 percent,” said Larry Smith, president of the Durham County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Smith said this staffing shortage impacts response times. They are starting to see fewer officers volunteering to come in on their days off.
“If these officers continue not to come in and work on their days off, we’re going to have really low staffing,” Smith said.
CBS 17 reached out to Durham police to get an update on what their vacancy rate is for police officers, but has not heard back.
In early September, Durham police said they had 69 vacancies in the department.
But on Monday, the Durham County FOP told CBS 17 that the police department has 97 operational vacancies.
CBS 17 has previously reported about how the starting pay for Durham officers is much lower than other cities in the Triangle. Durham starts officers at $38,511 a year, which lags behind Raleigh ($42,300), Hillsborough ($43,227), Holly Springs ($47,932), Wake Forest ($50,243), and Cary ($51,000).
Smith said a pay raise would help retain more officers, but also that there’s a need for more support for police officers from the city.
Officials with the FOP said they continue to lose about eight officers per month — many to other nearby police departments where they can go make $10,000 a year more than they do now.
“For a taxpayer, I think that should be concerning, and for the city, I think that should be concerning,” Smith said. “Particularly in a city dealing with the level of violence that Durham is dealing with right now.”
The latest data from Durham police show that there have been 594 shooting incidents this year, 205 people have been shot, and 33 of those individuals have died.
From Friday night to Sunday night, a total of five people were shot.
Police said a 17-year-old boy was shot following the homecoming football game between Northern High School and Riverside High School. Police said someone fired a gun in the air, which struck the 17-year-old boy in the leg.
CBS 17 was told multiple vehicles were struck. One parent said they heard up to 15 shots fired.
The next day at 6:20 pm, 33-year-old Aaron Reese was shot to death in a car in the parking lot of Hardee Terrace Apartments. His cousin told CBS 17 over the phone he doesn’t know what led up to the shooting and he would like to see something done about the gun violence.
“He just didn’t deserve it,” Reese said. “I don’t know what they’re doing to police the streets more or to go after gang members. I’m not sure what they’re doing.”
Just four hours later, a woman was shot on Liberty Street in a drive-by shooting. She was taken to the hospital and she is expected to be ok.
On Sunday around 5 p.m., a man was shot at a Discount Store on Fayetteville Street near Pilot. He ended up at a convenience store on S. Roxboro Street near Enterprise where he was able to get help.
The van he was traveling in was riddled with bullet holes and the driver seat window had been shot out. He was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
And just four hours later, a man was shot at McDougald Terrace in Wabash Street. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
CBS 17 tried reaching out to both Mayor Steve Schewel and the interim police chief about the weekend of gun violence in the city, but has not heard back from either official.