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Former Officers Say Raleigh Police Understaffing is Jeopardizing Public Safety

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RALEIGH — There is word of growing dissension in theRaleigh Police Department. In recent weeks, Raleigh police officers have been leaving in record numbers for better working conditions in other departments. Some officers say they know why.

Two former officers are speaking out for the first time about a department they say is so short-staffed, your safety is being jeopardized.

To protect their future in police work, the officers do not want to reveal their identities, but they do want tell their story

"The bottom line is if you don't have happy workers, you're not going to have a good police departments," says one former Raleigh police officer, who we refer to as "Officer One."

Two officers have left jobs they loved, but a police department they want to warn the public about.

"The department is running so short-staffed that I feel as though my family wouldn't get the immediate response that they deserve when you're dealing with an emergency-type situation," says the other officer who we refer to as "Officer Two."

A full staff at the Raleigh Police Department is 635 officers; right now 551 officers are working. The department is understaffed by 84 positions.

"I'm overworked, I'm stressed out," says Officer Two.

The two former officers say they have worked double beats, where one officer is doing the work of two.

"If you ride 2608 and someone else rides 2609, and 2609 is not there, then 2608 will ride 2608 and 2609," says Officer One.

So what if you or your family were involved in a rush hour accident with injuries?

"It'll probably take anywhere between from 15 to 20 minutes before an officer gets there," says Officer One.

Why so long?

"Because they just don't have officers, they just don't have people," he says.

"Now, it may take us two hours to get to a larceny of a lawnmower call, but it won't take us two hours to get to a call [in] which someone's safety is at risk," says Maj. John Knox of the Raleigh Police Department.

Knox says in the past year, response time has improved.

In 1997-98, the average time it took a Raleigh police officer to get to a scene after an emergency call was just over 6.09 minutes. The average improved to 5.79 minutes in 1998-99.

"I do know that there are times during the week that we have calls that are backed up. But we don't back up Priority Zero calls or Priority One calls. They are dispatched immediately," says Knox of those emergency calls.

Tuesday night, a spokesperson with the Raleigh Police Internal Affairs Department told WRAL-TV that there have been complaints from citizens of police not responding to their calls. The spokesperson did not say how many complaints have been received.

The department says it is working hard to find quality applicants.


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