WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Sheriff Willie Rowe reflects on his first 100 days in office. ABC11 sat down with Rowe Wednesday night inside the sheriff's office where he shared what he's learned so far and how his administration is moving forward with their priorities, which include boosting morale and filling the vacancies within the department.
So far, they've hired more than 50 new members.
"Some have been deputy sheriffs, some been detention officers, telecommunication, some civilian staff," explained Rowe.
The department is down about 55 deputies and 100 detention officers. Rowe shared there is an academy right now for deputies and another starting soon for detention officers.
Rowe said the department is on its way toward cutting the vacancies in half.
"We got the potential of putting 48 more on before the end of the year. We also will be starting a detention academy with 25 detention officers. So, we think we're in a good place. We've got, over 100 applicants. We're in the process of interviewing," Rowe continued.
To also address morale within the department Rowe has reinstated the tuition reimbursement program to assist personnel in furthering their education and began offering bonuses to keep current employees.
They also implemented a citizen well-check program, accepted a donated Crisis Response Therapy K9 to assist employees with their wellness, and expanded recruitment efforts.
Rowe shared he also conducts listening sessions with the department.
"I think just that approach has made people feel comfortable. Let them know that they are valued and that they have some input. So yesterday, I have a deputy telling me the last time he was in this office, it was a totally different atmosphere," said Rowe.
But these 100 days also came with challenges.
There's been an increased level of violence in schools and the community.
"People are frustrated. People are facing a lot of financial challenges and a lot of times a lack of opportunity," said Rowe.
"So it's important that we work with the stakeholders to create equal access to opportunity. To bring about education and awareness, let people know there are options other than resorting to crime so we can create a sense of hope instead of a presence of desperation, " Rowe continued.
And the change in the office is being recognized by some community leaders and advocates.
"The culture inside of Wake County Sheriff's Department has shifted," said Kerwin Pittman.
Pittman showed up to campaign forums asking then-candidate Willie Rowe tough questions about his vision for the county.
"He's reached out when there have been situations in the community and not for intel purposes just to see if everything was okay. And so, this shows that his intent, in my opinion, is in the right direction," said Pittman.
Moving forward he hopes, Rowe establishes a community advisory board.
"I hope it will be one that has some type of policy recommendations. Also, policy implementations, of power but also as well as little teeth to hold officers accountable, the sheriff deputies accountable if they do commit unjust acts," explained Pittman.
So far, he said Rowe is who he campaigned as and hopes that continues.
"I was familiar with Willie Rowe before he became sheriff and when he was actually started running. And so, I wasn't more so concerned with the trajectory of the department, but more so hoping that when he got in his position, he remained the same," said Pittman
Meanwhile, Rowe said he has plenty of work to do to move the department forward.
"I'm really pleased with where we are at this point and there's no stopping this," said Rowe.