CMPD uses thousands of taxpayer dollars on officer recruitment

CMPD uses thousands of taxpayer dollars on officer recruitment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Channel 9 obtained new, exclusive details about which cities and states the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is visiting to try and find new officers.

In Channel 9’s investigation, we uncovered tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars are being spent to fund those critical recruitment efforts.

CMPD needs to hire 200 more officers, but they are losing them faster than they are hiring them.

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On Thursday morning, at CMPD's training center, many of their rooms were filled with officers brushing up on their skills, but out on the street, many patrols are short-staffed.

The Fraternal Order of Police said the CMPD hired 114 police officers last year, but 120 left.

Channel 9 reporter Mark Barber asked CMPD Capt. Dave Johnson how serious their recruitment needs are.

"Very serious. Critical, actually,” Johnson said.

Channel 9’s investigation uncovered CMPD's search for new officers have taken them to four cities in three states on nine recruitment trips in the 2018 fiscal year, so far.

Those cities included Lexington, Virginia; Washington D.C.; Greenville, North Carolina; and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

In the 2017 fiscal year, the CMPD made 14 recruitment trips to seven cities to find officers, including Goldsboro, North Carolina; Swansboro, North Carolina; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Columbus, Georgia.

Barber asked CMPD officers about Raleigh’s job fair in Charlotte to recruit police officers, and if the CMPD is taking bold approaches like that to recruit candidates in other cities.

"So, we focus our recruiting efforts where we know we're going to get a return on our investment,” Johnson said. “So, we recruit on college campuses, we recruit on military bases, we go to job fairs."

Channel 9 discovered CMPD has spent more than $13,800 on recruitment trips from 2016 to 2018.

They spent $26,906 in that same time frame on advertising.

CMPD is now hoping to attract more recruits by wrapping Charlotte's buses and light rail trains with new advertisements. They're also going to start rolling out new, eye-catching billboards along major interstates, including I-85 and I-95.

Barber asked Johnson about how officers can make $11,000 more in Raleigh than in Charlotte and how Raleigh offers guaranteed retirement insurance.

“'It's hard, right? It's hard,” Johnson said about the incentives other cities can offer officers. “That's why we're trying to focus on selling Charlotte."

When new officers are hired, it can take up to a year and a half before they're ready to start patrolling, so CMPD is desperately racing to fill the ranks that are being stretched critically thin.

Because CMPD is so short-staffed, some officers are having a hard time getting time off.

Even when some officers are sick, they are still coming in for patrols because they don't want to leave their co-workers without help.

Charlotte leaders are discussing giving CMPD officers a 15 percent pay raise to try to keep them from leaving.

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