Durham Police Department faces challenges to fill 35 open positions

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What recruitment challenges face the Durham Police Department?

Durham Police Department has about 35 positions to fill.

One challenge the agency says it is dealing with is recruiting minorities who can pass the background check.

There's a slight drop in the number of African-American officers employed with DPD since 2015.

But that could be changing soon. DPD says it is seeing an uptick in interest -- thanks in part to a series of local and national job fairs, open houses, and commercials airing on television.

The city also approved a new compensation package for new officers that includes a $5,000 bonus and money for relocation.

Right now, the starting salary for a new DPD officer is one of the highest in the state.

But with two recent high-profile police shootings and six officers currently placed on leave -- ABC 11 asked DPD whether these events could hamper efforts to attract new applicants.

"I think it's too early to say," Cpt. Brian Reitz said. "We don't have any statistical data that says our recruiting is down. We're actually trending up."

In February, DPD welcomed 11 new police officers.

Twenty-five recruits are currently in the new academy. DPD has about 65 potential recruits taking a physical test next week.

Reitz says the department is addressing staff shortages by shifting patrols where they are needed.

"We always evaluate where our needs and services are. If it's violent crimes then we will push resources toward violent crimes. If it's traffic related we'll push resources toward traffic related," Reitz said.

One new resource DPD uses is body cameras. Right now, 40 officers use the cameras, which do not continuously record. The officer has to push the button to start recording.

ABC 11 asked why DPD chose not to use a continuous recording feature. Wil Glenn, DPD public affairs manager, responded with this statement:

It is understood that not all situations will require recording.

Additionally, a lot of factors were considered when the body camera policy was created. Factors like data storage and battery life, along with officer privacy.

The three officers involved this week in the shooting death of a 24-year-old man were not wearing body cameras.

The 40 officers (out of 512) who wear body cameras out in the field are all from District 1, which is on the northeast side of the city. District 4, to the city's southeast, will be the next unit to receive and begin wearing body cameras.



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