DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Police departments across the Triangle are continuing to lose officers despite their efforts to recruit more people.
In Oct. 2021, Raleigh police had 102 vacancies. But that number has grown to 168 as of Thursday, according to the RPD.
This means that 21 percent of RPD’s 800 positions are vacant.
Raleigh police officials told CBS 17 in an email, that like many other police departments around the country, the Raleigh Police Department is experiencing shortages. Officials said some officers are retiring and others are resigning.
But Raleigh police officials said they are constantly working to recruit more officers and they currently have two academies that are in session.
In Durham, it currently has 102 vacancies, that is up from the 70 vacancies the Durham Police Department told CBS 17 they had in Oct. 2021.
This means that 19 percent of their 537 positions are vacant.
This also comes as Durham has experienced an increase in shootings as there have been more than 200 shooting incidents since the beginning of 2022.
Within the last week alone, there were seven shootings where a total of 13 people were shot. On Tuesday night, there were two deadly shootings within 45 minutes of each other.
With the high number of vacancies, that means there are fewer officers who can respond to these shootings and other calls for service.
“In situations like that, particularly where there are two shootings, you’re going to have a manpower issue,” Larry Smith said, a spokesperson for the Durham Fraternal Order of Police.
Smith said with fewer officers and more shooting calls, this means there could be longer response times to lower-priority calls.
“They’ve got to work the scene, they have got to secure the scene, and then you still have your 911 calls coming in,” Smith said.
While Durham City Council passed a 10 percent pay increase for police recruits and varying raises for other officers in January, the number of vacancies has gone up instead of down.
“We don’t improve staffing in three months,” DPD Chief Patrice Andrews said during a press conference on Wednesday. “This is going to be a process, but we have slowed down the frequency by which we are losing officers.”
Andrews said they are actively recruiting, they have seen an increase in applicants, but it’s going to take some time. She said the recruits have six months to complete an academy.
“We have slowed the frequency by which we are losing officers and I think that’s a valuable metric,” Andrews said.
Raleigh police and Durham police are not alone.
CBS 17 found out of all the agencies we reached out to on Thursday, Goldsboro police had the highest percentage of vacancies with 27 percent of their 108 officer positions vacant.
In Fayetteville, 16 percent of FPD’s officer positions are vacant, 13 percent of Morrisville PD’s positions are vacant, 10 percent of Wake Forest’s department’s positions are vacant, and eight percent of Cary’s positions are vacant. Both Roxboro police and Holly Springs police have zero vacancies.
Randy Hagler, the president of the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, said both large and small departments across the state are experiencing a shortage of officers.
“Almost every agency that I’m aware of has vacancies,” Hagler said. “They are all aggressively looking for applicants, they are looking on military bases, and they are looking at colleges and universities.”
Hagler said police departments need to look at raises for both entry-level and veteran officers, but he said that is not the only thing that will fix this problem.
“Money is not the only thing,” Hagler said. “We have got to improve our working conditions and make sure our officers feel supported.”
CBS 17 asked Roxboro Chief of Police David Hess how they have been able to keep all of their 33 positions filled.
Chief Hess sent the following statement in an email:
“We are blessed to have the majority of our employees born and raised in the community. Our elected officials supported implementing take home police cars, implementing a paid certification training program and recruiting candidates to hire who we could pay to be in the police academy. We live in a community that is very supportive of law enforcement. When law enforcement officers feel supported by the community and local leaders, they tend to enjoy coming to work and staying.”