HENDERSON, N.C. — The City of Henderson is grappling with a shrinking police force.
Five officers recently left the force and even more are thinking about it. The reason is money. Henderson's police are among the lowest paid in the state.
"We've done the math. If I get one of these jobs that I'm looking at with the salary that they are offering and my experience, I can buy this house that we are looking at," Officer Chase Scott said.
The starting salary for a Henderson officer is $23,500. That amount is thousands less than officers a county away are earning.
In Louisburg and Franklin County, for example, officers start at just under $30,000 a year.
The difference could even be enough to lure a 12-year veteran of the Henderson police force.
"Officers are interested in more money because they have to take care of their families," Lt. Steven Vaughn said.
Since 1999, Henderson has lost 24 officers that the city has spent close to $1 million in training and equipment.
"Only to see them lost to other police municipalities nearby who offer sizeable increases in pay," Police Chief Glen Allen said.
Sgt. Keith Garner has spent the past four years patrolling a neighborhood known for crime.
He knows the neighborhood and the neighborhood knows him. He said he would consider giving up the comfort level for more cash.
"Of course. If the money was right," he said.
The town is losing experienced officers who say the trend will continue until the city comes up with more money.
Allen said he plans to talk with the city council about finding the money to raise the officers' pay.