Durham Police Facing Officer Shortage
Posted November 18, 2003 2:36 a.m. EST
DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham Police Department is facing an officer shortage during its busiest time of the year. To handle holiday rush, the department is forced to put specialized officers back on patrol.
Show them a license, registration, and show them the money. Durham police officers are leaving the department at an alarming rate.
Andy Miller, president of the Police Benevolent Association and a Durham police officer, said it is because the city does not pay them enough.
"They can go to other cities, they can reach top pay faster, they can advance more quickly and work less," he said.
Miller said Durham offers a competitive starting salary, but said it takes at least four years before officers have enough experience to work on their own. By that time, the officers are already underpaid by Durham, so they leave.
"We train officers to a higher standard than the state requires. We're proud of that, but under the current pay system, we're training those officers for other agencies," Miller said.
The current shortage is not a safety concern yet, but Miller said the holiday rush of calls is forcing the department to cut special services just to provide basic protection.
"We've got a problem and we need to address it. Citizens of Durham should be concerned. They should be asking questions of the administration," he said.
Miller wants the City Council to OK a bigger pay raise for next year.
Council members have formed a committee to examine the department's pay system.
"I'm waiting to get a recommendation from the committee formed to look at the problem. It is a pressing problem and we're going to deal with it," Council member Howard Clement III said.