Durham police chief orders officers in special units out on patrols amid growing officer shortage

North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews told the city council during a work session Thursday that starting in January, all officers who are ranked as an investigator and above will be required to go out on patrol to help combat their shortage of officers.

CBS 17 was the first to report that Durham police officials were working on a plan to send criminal investigators, traffic investigators, and other specialized units out on patrol in the coming weeks.

Data from internal emails showed that even when patrol officers were coming in and working overtime in recent months, sometimes patrol shifts were still only 60 percent to 70 percent staffed.

On Thursday afternoon, Andrews told the city council that she had visited with patrol officers who shared with her their concerns about the officer shortage.

“One of the things they said to me, was ‘we just need some relief, we need some help,'” Andrews told the council.

Andrews said that the department then developed a plan, which will consist of requiring all officers who are ranked an investigator and above, to work four patrol shifts from January through March.

“We formulated a structure where we could put more officers on the street and not compromise their workload and their day-to-day tasks,” Andrews said.

Andrews said she will also be going on patrol four days during that three-month time frame.

“We’re looking forward to relieving some of that pressure while we start to really get the momentum going to really retain those officers and recruit officers as well,” Andrews said.

Andrews told the council on Thursday that since the beginning of the year, 36 officers have resigned from the department and 24 of those officers have gone to other law enforcement agencies.

Andrews also presented the quarterly crime report to city council, which showed that while violent crime overall is down, homicides are up more than 30 percent this year compared to 2020.

Andrews said that 29 out of the 43 homicide cases this year are still open, which means 67 percent of the homicides this year have not been solved.

She said this low clearance rate can be somewhat attributed to their staffing shortage.

Andrews said their recruiting unit has held monthly pop-up events and she said they are continuing to work to recruit more officers.

The Durham City Council will be hearing a proposal to raise police officer pay at their Jan. 6 work session.

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