Wake County sheriff addresses efforts to fill vacancies amid pandemic, social unrest

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County Sheriffs’ Office is ramping up efforts to fill dozens of vacancies.

Sheriff Gerald Baker is counting this week as a win after hiring seven new deputies to fill roles in multiple departments.

“We’re determined to find the best that’s out there,” Baker said.

In a sheriff’s office with more than 260 positions, there are still 45 to 50 vacancies.

“They’re throughout our entire office, the patrol unit, investigative division, our court operations,” Baker said.

Baker said he has noticed less interest from young people to get into law enforcement, especially after last year’s social unrest and continued front-line exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of the civil unrest and some of the things that of happened, the pandemic, all of these things kind of turn them away,” Baker said. “There are folks that are in this profession now who are getting out of it because of the pandemic.”

The sheriff’s office isn’t the only one trying to fill positions.

Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson shared in October that the department has around 100 vacancies.

In an internal podcast released Friday by the police chief, she discussed her hopes to offer more financial incentives to new officers, but said the details of that still need to be worked out.

Baker said he’s open to the idea of financial hiring incentives but is not currently offering any sign-on bonuses.

“We’re looking at that, too,” Baker said. “We’re trying to come up with some things that would help bring people in.”

Starting pay for Wake County sheriff’s deputies is $42,000.

Even with the challenges over the past year, the sheriff says he’s still hopeful with around a dozen candidate interviews lined up in the coming weeks.

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