CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The more officers on the street, the better, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. That’s why they’re actively recruiting officers for the nearly 200 vacancies they have for officers in the department.
CMPD says the vacancies aren’t impacting police work, but it does put a strain on the department and the officers. Because of the vacancies, officers are working long shifts and time off isn’t as readily approved, putting a strain on mental and physical health.
The department has had a lot of retirements in the last couple of years and CMPD has had a hard time recruiting qualified candidates to fill the spots - now they’re turning to social media hoping it brings in the right candidates.
“I’ve always had law enforcement in the back of my mind,” said training officer Kirsten Colclough. “Meeting people, developing a good report in the community and just serving people.”
Colclough is in the academy right now and is an example of the type of people CMPD is searching for.
“We have to put the right people on the street,” said Captain Dave Johnson, who oversees recruitment and training.
But finding the candidates is a harder job than you’d think. From the initial pool of applicants, less than 5% of people are sworn officers at the end of the process. Johnson said most commonly people are disqualified for driving or drug records.
“It’s not easy, it’s not for everybody but we certainly welcome anyone who’d like to give it a shot,” said Captain Johnson.
For three years in a row now, CMPD has had officer vacancies ranging from 150 to 180 officers, meaning nearly 200 fewer cops on the street protecting the city.
“We’d love to be at full staff but it’s going to take us some time,” Johnson said. “More officers on the street are always going to help. Slowly but surely we’re getting there.”
As CMPD gears up for the RNC, its staff numbers are more relevant than ever. CMPD said they are well equipped to handle security for the huge event. But as Charlotte’s popularity as a host city for major events continues to rise, recruitment is more important than ever.
“I like to look at recruitment as offense and defense,” Johnson said. “Offensively we got to get out and recruit. Defensively, we got to make sure we’re hiring the right people."
They’ve focused their recruiting on social media using Twitter, Facebook and even Spotify ads to recruit candidates.
“That’s been the biggest impact we made, the biggest bang for our buck is our social media presence," said Johnson.
And it’s working. The current recruitment class is one of their biggest yet. Johnson said October’s recruitment class is expected to be just as large.
The CMPD recruit application is open the first 10 days of every month. You can find the application at cmpd.org/apply.
CMPD also hosts a Facebook live during the week with a recruiter to help answer any question on the application process, benefits or salary.