Local News

Some Triangle-Area Police Officers Head To Iraq For New Jobs

Posted November 17, 2003

— The lure of big money is drawing American civilians to Iraq, despite the dangers. But that has left several local police departments feeling the pinch.

Violent unrest in the city streets of Iraq is job security for police officers willing to risk their lives. Private companies contracting with the U.S. government are offering $16,000-a-month salaries to American civilian peace keepers -- an offer some local police officers can't refuse.

"The money is enticing. It gets people over there, then they realize, 'What have I got myself into?'" said Cary police officer Peggy Marchant.

Marchant knows the rewards and risks of becoming an officer for hire. Seven years ago, she left her post as a Fayetteville cop to train police officers in Bosnia.

"At that time, it tripled my salary, so it was very enticing," she said.

However, Marchant said it was also very dangerous.

"It's a hard job. It's hard enough being a police officer here in your own country, but at least you feel a little more safe here," she said.

Despite the risk, departments all over the Triangle are losing good cops to big bucks.

"It does affect our agencies. It affects our police departments because we are losing good trained, well-trained officers," Marchant said.

Two officers in Cary decided to go. Instead of making $40,000 a year in the Triangle, they are now making $200,000 a year. As for Marchant, she decided the big money was not worth it this time.

"At least you can walk on the grass and not step on a mine and worry about your life," she said.

Some local departments let officers go and come back once. As a result of losing those two officers, Cary has just changed its policy. Now, Cary officers have to quit their job and will not get hired back if they go overseas for contract work.


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