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Raleigh recruiting cops from the neighbors to beef up force

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said he is going after officers from other departments, with a new plan allowing them to make lateral transfers if they join the Raleigh police force.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The rising number of robberies in Raleigh has the police department scrabbling to fill vacancies.

Robberies are up more than 50 percent from last year, with 410 reported so far this year. Bringing that number down is a challenge because the city is short more than 70 officers from its authorized strength. 

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan says officer shortage is a problem nationwide. However, he is doing all he can to recruit more officers, even if it causes friction with neighboring cities.

"We want to recruit experienced, professional officers,” Dolan said.

Dolan is going after officers from other departments, he said, with a new plan allowing them to make lateral transfers if they join the Raleigh police force.

“They are not going to have to start over. They are going to be recognized for the years of experience that they have, both in their position within the department ... and with pay,” he added.

The lateral transfers are already sparking concern in Durham. The department is worried about losing officers that it has spent money to train, Durham police spokesperson Kammie Michael said.

"I think that's the competitive nature today that we live in,” Dolan said. "If we see talent, we're going to do all that we can to get that talented young woman or man to join the capital city police."

The shortage is so bad, Raleigh plans to hire back some retired officers to work part-time. The department also put all promotions on hold to keep more officers on patrol.

"We're going to make sure that we're keeping all the resources that we can in those marked cars, in those uniforms on the streets,” Dolan said.

The starting pay for a Raleigh officer is about $32,000 a year. Durham has the lowest-paid officers in the area at $30,000. Cary officers start off making almost $36,500, while Knightdale pays the highest, at more than $37,000.

Councilman Rodger Koopman said lower pay hurts recruitment efforts.

"The City Council, I think, needs to recalibrate how we provide money so that the police department can recruit and attract the right talent,” Koopman added.

Dolan said he hopes that the new initiatives will put the department at or near full staff by the start of 2009.


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