Durham, North Carolina – Police departments in North Carolina and across the country are struggling to fill positions. Currently, the Raleigh and Durham police departments are facing a 20% vacancy rate.
Corporal Darian Daye of the Durham Police Service grew up in Durham and the surrounding police area. His father was a captain with a 30-year career at DPD.
“I never liked bullies at school, so I see myself as someone who can deal with people, speak up for people who are being bullied,” Daye said.
Daye has gone through a lot of changes over the past decade. Durham is growing, with big tech companies, like Google and Meta, coming to the area.
“Every time I come to work I see a new subdivision being built somewhere…we’re a boom town,” Daye said.
A WRAL documentary recently explored the gun violence plaguing the city of Durham Under Fire.
At the same time, DPD is understaffed with a vacancy rate of 20%.
In 2012, the year Daye graduated from the police academy, he said, “I thought we had 44 people to start with and we got 34.”
At a recent academy graduation in February, there were 7 cadets – 80% less than in Daye’s class.
“This part, it hurts my heart…the auditorium would be filled with 30 new recruits,” said Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal.
Vacancies are not a problem unique to Durham. This is happening across the state and country.
Police chiefs blame the coronavirus pandemic, pay and resentment towards police over the death of George Floyd.
“There are a myriad of factors involved in the decline of policing,” DPD Staff Sergeant Ronell Hinton said.
Hinton is a recruiter for DPD, striving to fill positions with the right people.
“We now have a hiring bonus of $10,000. We also have up to $3,000 in relocation incentives. If you have an associate degree, that will be 2.5% more than your salary. We have a language incentive,” Hinton said.
“We paid for the academy training, so we’ll pay you to go through our police academy.”
Sometimes wanting to do it just isn’t enough.
“I have spoken to several people who want to be police officers, (but) they are afraid of what their friends or family might think of them for wanting to do it. A lot of people are hesitant because of public opinion, honestly,” Daye said.
“If they were real friends, if they were part of your family, they would love you regardless, and they should push you to fulfill any dream of yours, whatever that may be,” he said. declared.
Daye thinks about the person who has always supported his dream – his best friend from high school.
“It means a lot to me to continue doing this work because he has always been one of the big supporters of my work,” he said.
One of Daye’s closest friends, Demario Lucas, was shot and killed in Durham in 2013 after a homecoming party at North Carolina Central University.
Daye keeps a keychain with Lucas’ picture on it in his cruiser.
“People say, ‘You have no idea. You don’t know what it is.’ I know what it is [to] got a phone call at 4 a.m. telling you that one of your best friends was killed,” Daye said.
“I really get it. I really get it. [There’s] not just an answer – there are many factors to curbing gun violence, but we are doing what we can, and we will continue to do what we can. »
Daye said he would never stop doing his job because he cared too much about Durham. He just hopes that more people will join him one day.
“That’s a big thing for me is to be able to let the citizens of Durham enjoy Durham and not worry about the very small percentage of people in Durham who want to cause harm and destruction to everyone. world,” he said.