CARRBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – While large police departments like Raleigh and Durham are dealing a shortage of officers, smaller police departments such as Carrboro are facing the same challenge with 23 percent of their positions vacant.
Currently, nine out of the Carrboro Police Department’s 39 officer positions are open, which means nearly a quarter of their department’s positions are vacant, according to Carrboro police officials.
“It takes a toll when we run short, especially for extended periods of time,” said Carrboro Police Chief Chris Atack.
Atack said the shortage of officers is something Carrboro police has not experienced since 2001.
“We’ve had to pull together and ask people to be patient and take a deep breath,” Atack said.
Atack said patrol shifts are now about 50 percent staffed on a regular basis and recently they have had to hold certain low priority calls.
“Recently we’ve had to stack them, we’ve had to prioritize them, and hold calls until we get personnel who can address them,” Atack said.
Atack said the average response time in Carrboro for a priority 1 call in 2021 was 3 minutes and 36 seconds. In the first quarter of 2022, Carrboro’s average response time for priority 1 calls climbed to about 5 minutes.
“It can be a real challenge to provide the service at the level to the community that we expect and that the community expects,” Atack said.
Carrboro is one of several police departments in the area experiencing a shortage of officers.
In Goldsboro, 29 out of their 108 positions are vacant, which means 27 percent of their officer positions are open.
In Raleigh, the latest numbers from Raleigh police show that 168 out of 801 officer positions are vacant. And in Durham, officials have said 101 out of their 537 officer positions are open.
In Chapel Hill, 14 out of their 102 positions are vacant, which means 13 percent of the officer positions are open.
However, not all police departments are experiencing shortages. Roxboro police, Garner police, and Hillsborough police all tell CBS 17 they have zero vacancies.
Atack said he is lucky to receive an application from a candidate in his email every two weeks.
“I get an email when we get an application, it comes right to me and we all look at it to see who it is,” Atack said.
To try to recruit more officers, Atack said the Town of Carrboro is conducting a comprehensive pay study to see how high they can increase the starting pay for officers.
Currently, starting officers in Carrboro make $46,878 a year, which is lower than the $50,000 a year that starting officers in Chapel Hill earn.
Atack said their department has also started a recruiting plan to try to build relationships in the community with possible officer candidates.
“We’re going to get through this, it’s just really challenging right now,” Attack said.
If you would like to apply for a position at the Carrboro Police Department, click on this website.