Local News

Police Shortage Creates Public Safety Problem In Carrboro

Posted May 2, 2001 1:22 a.m. EDT

— Long hours and a lack of police officers is creating a public safety problem in Carrboro.

Officer Chris Atack is just one of 26 officers patrolling the town's streets. He says the shortage is beginning to show.

"When you're running short, and you've been running short for an extended period of time, you get burned out. You get tired," he says. "It's frustrating. You can't address calls as effectively as you like to."

The Carrboro Police Department has been understaffed for years. Chief Caroline Hutchison blames low salaries. She also says law enforcement can be a thankless job.

"Today's young people aren't particularly interested in working in an occupation that can be, at once, both gratifying and heartbreaking," she says.

The Board of Aldermen is looking at giving officers an additional 2.5 percent pay increase as well as letting them take patrol cars home. A decision is expected by June.

Atack says the proposal could not have come at a better time because, as it is right now, the job he loves is taking its toll.

"You just feel like not only are you burning the candle at both ends, but in the middle as well," he says.

The starting salary for a police officer in Carrboro is just over $28,000. Most of the officers cannot afford to live in the town they serve and protect.