DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – For months, CBS 17 has been following up on staffing shortages at the Durham Police Department. At the city council’s work session Thursday, the real-world impacts of it became clear: a longer response time for high priority calls.
The Interim Police Chief Shari Montgomery said her officers are doing the best they can to keep up, including working overtime, but it’s taking a toll.
“Patrol staffing levels affect response times,” she explained.
Montgomery spoke as part of the department’s quarterly report to city council.
“We don’t have as many cars available or patrol or staffing available,” Montgomery said.
The goal is for DPD to respond to 57 percent of priority one calls, the most serious, in less than 5 minutes. In the first six months of this year, only about 50 percent met that. The average response time was 6 minutes ad 6 seconds.
“I’m used to it,” Courtney King said.
King said it routinely takes police longer than it should to respond to her community on South Elm Street.
“It’s really usual, though. I understand the police are going through something right now, but they don’t really respond out here like that anyway,” King said.
During public comment, Durham resident Donald Hughes called on the council to do better.
“We’re the ones that are kept up at night by the sound of more than 20 rounds being fired off,” Hughes said.
“If you look at it and compare it to 2020, we had 60, 70, 80 percent staffing, so there were more calls to respond to the calls that reduce response time. You know, as of recent our staffing levels are in the 40s,” Montgomery said.
The department explained that 15 percent of its sworn officer positions are vacant. That’s 82 people it needs to hire and train.
Montgomery said they’ve been trying to recruit, and some people they’ve hired are now in training.
As for Durham’s next police chief, the city said its search continues and a decision is expected by the end of the month.