CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Cory Hynson and Jzanese Weekes are two of the newest police officers patrolling Concord, but both of them are from out of state.
Hynson moved to North Carolina from Maryland, and Weekes came from West Virginia.
"I didn't want to just be a number," Hynson said. "I wanted to be known and feel like a family, and that's what I feel like I have here."
"Money is not the most important thing," Weekes said. "What drew me in was how engaging the recruiter was."
Both Hynson and Weekes had plenty of jobs to consider.
Not only does the Concord Police Department have 14 openings, but many local agencies have officer positions to fill as well.
Hiring for those jobs is proving difficult because fewer people are entering the profession.
Enrollment in the police academy for basic law enforcement training has dropped 54 percent statewide.
Concord police Chief Gary Gacek said a population boom, along with a drop in the number of people becoming police officers, has created a perfect storm.
"In the two and a half years that I've been here as chief, the department has grown by 22 sworn positions," Gacek said. "So, I'm trying to simultaneously deal with growth at the same time we're dealing with that perfect storm, and it's a huge challenge."
Departments are aggressively recruiting, including CMPD, which has 150 openings.
“You do really have to make the case for, ‘Why Charlotte? Why CMPD? What do we have to offer?’" Capt. Dave Robinson said.
Starting salaries for local law enforcement agencies:
- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.: $45,667
- Concord Police Department: $36,755
- Cornelius Police Department.: $37,823
- Fort Mill Police Department: $38,500
- Gastonia Police Department: $37,001 to $40,794
- Huntersville Police Department: $38,636.78
- Iredell County Sheriff’s Office: $39,338.07 to $60,411.89
- Kannapolis Police Department: $35,234
- Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office: $36,491.52
- Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office: $41,385.78
- Mint Hill Police Department: $33,380
- Mooresville Police Department: $39,650
- Pineville Police Department: $37,000
- Rock Hill Police Department: $38,636.78
- Union County Sheriff’s Office: $40,170
- York County Sheriff’s Office: $37,165.63 to $52,032.11 (deputy); $35,519.79 to $49,728.18 (detention officer)
CMPD is using incentives to up its offer to lateral officers currently at other departments, like promotion opportunities within two years, residency incentives to live within CMPD jurisdiction and the chance to transfer time off from their previous agency.
Those are perks an experienced officer like Jamie Carrington appreciates.
"It makes you more excited to come to work. They're not going to treat you like you're a brand-new officer," Carrington said.
Carrington spent 12 years with the police department in Norfolk, Virginia and will soon patrol Charlotte's Hickory Grove division.
CMPD is also ramping up recruitment within North Carolina because officers are certified by the state and can hit the streets sooner.
Some local police chiefs tell Channel 9 there's a new, growing pressure to compete.
"It's business," Robinson said. "Just like in the free market, you're able to go after talent in a way that fulfills the mission."
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