"I don't know if I'd call us understaffed, but [there are] extremely less resources of comparable size," Cunningham said. "For 112,000 people, you should figure you should have 200 to 250 officers or slightly less, slightly more, depending on your community."
Cunningham, who has been on the job for almost three months, said he plans to ask for a "sizable" amount of new officers.
"Just because we have that low ratio doesn't mean we have to just instantly add a lot of officers. Show me we're falling behind," said town councilor Jack Smith.
"Cary has been very fortunate in the past. We don't want to get to the position where we're having to fight to reduce crime. We want to keep crime from being here," Cunningham said.
Cunningham knows Cary is not your average community. There are several reasons the town stays safe, despite a relatively small police force.
Two-thirds of Cary adults have at least a college degree. With a median income of $75,000 a year, Cary is the wealthiest town in Wake County -- the ninth-richest in the state.
The town is also growing. Since the 1960s, Cary has doubled its population every decade. In 15 years, the geographical size has exploded from 30 square miles to 51 square miles.
To put Cary's 143 officers into perspective, Charleston, S.C. has 5,000 more people, but more than twice as many police officers. The city's crime rate is also higher.
Cary was ranked the ninth-safest in the country by Morgan Quitno's 2004 report of safest and most dangerous cities.
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