DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Some police departments in and around the Triangle are seeing a rise in the number of vacancies in their departments.
The latest data from Durham Police shows that 10 percent of their positions are vacant, which is the equivalent of about 60 jobs.
“That’s put an increased workload on the staff that’s currently here,” said Larry Smith, spokesperson for the Durham County FOP.
In an interview in February, Smith said the Durham Police Department is losing anywhere from 3-to-5 officers a month.
Smith said some are going to other departments that pay more.
Durham police start their officers at $37,000 and Raleigh Police pays their starting officers $41,000. But over in Cary and Wake Forest, these departments start their officers at $48,000.
Currently, Raleigh police have 77 vacancies and they have lost 97 officers since March 2020.
Fayetteville police have 63 vacancies and they have lost 96 officers in the last year. Data shows that Fayetteville police has filled 71 of those positions.
Chief Gina Hawkins has blamed a need for higher pay on the recent departures of her officers. She has also said morale is low and that department employees no longer view police work as a 20 or 30-year career.
Wake County Sheriff Gerald M. Baker said his office currently has 22 vacancies, but he said the problem is not recruiting deputies, it is finding the right people qualified to do the job. That’s because he said in this day and age, law enforcement is being watched more now than ever.
“Law enforcement is not as attractive as it was because of the changes under the microscope,” Baker said. “We’re no longer able to do this job the way it used to be done, this profession has to change with the times.”
Sheriff Baker is not calling the current 22 vacancies a shortage. But, he said they are getting creative as they are spreading deputies out to different areas and that the public likely isn’t noticing a difference in the agency’s response to public safety.
“We’re filling the holes and we’re looking for the best that’s out there to do that,” Baker said.
Rose Beane is the president of Wake County FOP #41.
She said that the culture is different today from when she became a sheriff deputy in 1988.
“Right now no one wants to be a cop really,” Beane said. “They think law-enforcement is one thing, but it turns out when they get there they’re disappointed it is not, and then they leave.”
Beane said she has heard that multiple law enforcement agencies in the Triangle are grappling with a rising number of police vacancies. She said departments need to look at higher pay and offering more benefits to better retain officers.