FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s a trend seen across the country: police departments are struggling to find men and women to do the job.
In Sampson County, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton took to Facebook, expressing just how bad the problem is. He wrote the department had 13 vacancies last summer, and that number is now up to 29.
In some areas of Wake County, it’s a totally different story.
“Over the last, I’d say six to eight months, we’ve only had two to three openings,” said Capt. Chris Gatham with the Fuquay-Varina Police Department.
He says one reason their team is able to fill positions is because of a trend of officers leaving metro areas and coming to work in more suburban areas.
“When you work in those bigger cities and those bigger agencies, you can kind of just be a number,” he said. “Here, we’re a big family.”
Gatham says pay is another factor that is attracting potential employees.
“Pay is pretty competitive here in Wake County, we start out at $52,710 for a police officer with no experience,” he explained.
Surrounding suburbs are seeing a similar trend. Officials with the Cary Police Department told CBS 17 the majority of their applicants are in-state but they have seen an increase in applicants from one of the biggest police agencies in the country — the NYPD.
Gatham says he thinks it comes down to working where you can make the biggest impact.
“They’re not just call takers, they’re not just responding to calls, they’re able to get out and do the kind of policing that, when you think of a police officer, they want to do — they want to make a difference in the community,” he said.
With recruiting efforts working, Gatham says the Fuquay-Varina police department is now highly focused on recruiting diverse candidates.