New Wake County Sheriff's Office graduating class helps address vacancies

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Friday, September 8, 2023
Newly graduated Wake County deputies helps address vacancies
Wake County Sheriff's Office held a graduation ceremony Friday afternoon, as 20 cadets officially became deputies.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Sheriff's Office held a graduation ceremony Friday afternoon, as 20 cadets officially became deputies.

"I was born and raised in Raleigh, and always wanted to come back into the community I grew up in," said Cameron Green, one of the new deputies.

Cadets underwent over 900 hours of training spanning more than six months. While it can be challenging, it pales in comparison to the obstacles Joseph Bove has previously faced.

"When I was 18, I joined the Army National Guard straight out of high school and had two heart surgeries. I wasn't able to serve them, but I knew I still wanted to serve and the Wake County Sheriff's Office gave me that opportunity, and I jumped on it as soon as I could," said Joseph Bove, who also graduated Friday.

Bove moved from Arizona to Holly Springs 16 years ago, and said he knew he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement.

"I had a lot of guilt that I wasn't able to serve in our forces that were over my control. But thankfully now I trained hard, got myself back into shape and talked to the right people at the Wake County Sheriff's Office, and they're willing to take a chance on me. And it worked out and I won't let them down," said Bove.

Friday's class is playing a role in addressing vacancies within the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

SEE ALSO | Local law enforcement agencies still struggling with staffing

Police departments across the country continue to see staffing shortages.

"With this class, we have some younger people. I just feel like bringing in the younger generation, you have us as being kind of your staples now saying, there's definitely a good career field to get into," said Green.

"When I came on board, we were probably (at about) 90 deputy (vacancies). Now we're down in the single digits (of vacancies). And so I think almost all of my full time positions are full with deputies and we're working on detention (officers) now. We (were) a little over 200 short when I came in, we got that number down to 100 (vacancies)," said Sheriff Willie Rowe.

According to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, there were 506 fewer recruits who took the BLET exam last year compared to 2019, as several law enforcement agencies across the Triangle are facing shortages.

Rowe said they are reaching out to local colleges and the military, participating in job fairs, and utilizing social media to try and connect with recruits. They're also offering $5,000 sign-on bonuses, which are paid out over time, including $1,000 up-front, for detention officers and telecommunicators.

SEE ALSO | Police salaries not helping fix staffing shortage challenges

Staffing struggles continue at many local police departments, and now some departments are facing a new problem: more officers quitting the force for higher-paying jobs at other police agencies.

"The bonus is being used as a recruiting and a retention tool," said Rowe.

He further credited the Wake County Board of Commissioners for addressing salary concerns, raising the starting pay to just over $50,000 for deputies and detention officers.

The next class is set to graduate in December and includes 13 cadets.