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This afternoon the Durham Police Department announced new incentives for men and women to join the police force.
The incentives come as the city council prepares to hear from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which conducted a staffing study for the department after former chief Jose Lopez requested additional funding to hire fifteen new investigators and fifty-six patrol officers.
Lopez wasn't successful at convincing the city council back in 2015. Since then, former interim chief Larry Smith has continued championing the need for additional officers, saying that the DPD is losing about sixty officers a year—nearly five a month. Staffing levels were critical this spring, when at some points, the department’s staffing percentage fell into the mid-sixties (which can adversely affect call times).
Smith told the council that, ideally, the department would be staffed at 80 percent. (Because of sick leave, vacations, and training periods, departments can never be 100 percent staffed.) Luckily, funds were freed up to pay overtime and increase staffing levels, but in a department of five hundred-plus officers, covering all five police districts can be tough when you're operating at low levels.
In July 2015, a $41,323 contract was approved with the IACP; since then, an additional $50,000 was added to the contract for a full operational analysis. That report is being given to the council on Thursday during a 3 p.m. work session.
Ahead of that discussion, the department announced special incentives for those applying to join the force—including a one-time $5,000 bonus for completion of all phases of the academy and field training, and signing a four-year commitment.
Those relocating to Durham to work for the department are also eligible for up to a $3,000 one-time bonus for moving into city limits.