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Some Fayetteville Officers Fatten Wallets in Kosovo

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FAYETTEVILLE — Police officers with a chance to make six-figure incomes are leaving the streets and going overseas. The work is dangerous, but the lure of big money is enough to make several officers in Fayetteville pack their bags.

Michael Todd is one who made the trip. Today, he looks at ease sitting in his favorite chair at his Cumberland County home. But a little more than a year ago, Todd's life was anything but comfortable.

"I was frightened until I got to sit back down in this chair, from the time I left," he said.

For 18 months, Todd investigated war crimes in Bosnia and Kosovo. It was quite a different world from the 20 years he spent working in the county sheriff's office.

"Here in the United States, we call for help, we get help -- one way or the other -- we get help. Over there, there's no one to call," Todd said.

Todd's tour abroad was part of contract deal with a Texas-based company that hires trained officers for specialized jobs overseas.

It is a move a lot of officers are making, both in the county and the city. For Todd, it was an issue of money.

"With the money that was to be made, I figure I would not have to wait until 62 to retire," he said.

For most officers, the salary is very tempting, as it would be for most people. Officers are paid up to $106,000 -- tax-free -- per year. In the city of Fayetteville, officers in training get paid $27,000 per year.

Seven Fayetteville officers have signed up for overseas work in the past month.

But the sign-up is not just occurring in Fayetteville. Police departments across the county are facing the same thing.

Todd says he can not blame officers for leaving.

"Americans that are willing to work can make a difference over there," he said.

Right now, there are 25 open positions in the Fayetteville Police Department. That includes three sergeants and one chief. The department is holding training sessions for new officers this month.

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Shani Blount, Reporter
David McCorkle, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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