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Military Deployments Depleting Local Law-Enforcement Agencies

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A lot of law-enforcement personnel who protect our streets every day are also called upon to protect our country. That causes a problem when they are called to active military duty.

The recent call for reserves to deploy in preparation for possible war against Iraq has some local law-enforcement agencies a little concerned.

Jennifer Kelly is a fraud investigator for the Fayetteville Police Department. She's also a member of the Army Reserves.

"I feel that we will probably be called," Kelly said, "and I'm ready to go."

While Kelly waits for the call, some of her co-workers already have gotten it. The Fayetteville Police Department has 12 reservists in its ranks. Six are gone, and one more officer leaves Tuesday.

"If you want to put it into perspective," said a department spokesperson, "technically, that's like losing half a patrol squad."

When officers are called up, replacing them is not as easy as sticking someone else in the patrol car. In the Fayetteville Police Department, three of the deployed officers are investigators - experienced men and women who are not easy to temporarily replace.

The Fayetteville Police Department is not alone. The Raleigh Police Department could lose up to 53 cops; right now, six have been activated.

The Durham Police Department has more than two dozen officers in the military part time. Just a few are now in the terrorism fight.

The State Highway Patrol has 10 out of its 1,800 troopers on active duty.

Law-enforcement agencies aren't the only ones preparing to lose staff. According to the International Association of Fire Chiefs, more than 75,000 firefighters nationwide could be called up over the next several months.

Paramedics also are leaving in large numbers.

Some departments say the activations won't hurt them. Others, like the Fayetteville Police Department, are managing now.

But they worry about the impact if all 12 of their officers are gone at once.

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