RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) Author DeJuan Hoggard -- A Monday push by North Carolina Attorney General and 2024 gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein is calling for "keeping people safe."
The one-page advertisement calls for "a strategy to better recruit and retain public-spirited officers who keep our communities safe. Well-staffed, well-trained, diverse law enforcement agencies make us safer."
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize if you take funds away from the police department, you're going to have less officers. And if you have less officers you're going to have more crime," said Gadi Adelman. The chairman of Back the Blue NC said the defund-the-police movement and the protests following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 had a significant effect on police morale.
"If you see a person in uniform, I don't care if it's military or law enforcement, but in this case specifically law enforcement, say thank you," said Adelman. "Let them know, thank you for your service. That goes a long way. Because right now they're not feeling like anybody cares."
Across the region, Durham Police Department's starting police officer salary is $46,998.
In Raleigh, that number jumps to $50,301.
And in Rocky Mount, it increases again to $60,000.
"If Rocky Mount is offering 60 and a person living between Rocky Mount and Raleigh can work at either place, they may very well choose Rocky Mount over Raleigh," Adelman said. "But they still have to be one that goes into that field."
Rocky Mount Police told ABC11 that it has 46 vacancies for sworn officers. There are 12 people entering the cadet training program starting next month. Raleigh police has over 110 vacancies, but tell ABC11 they are graduating one of their largest classes in the next two weeks.
Adelman added that people who go into law enforcement do so because it's a calling.
"They're not going into it because of the money. They're going to do that because they want to help the community," he said.
Adelman said he believes incentives and sign-on bonuses are a great effort. But, retention is still a major part.
"It's got to be a conglomerate of all these things," Adelman said."Support the local police, let your politicians know, and give them incentives. And let's turn this thing around because they are the only thing standing between us and the bad guys. And if you don't have the good guys out there, everyone is going to have to fend for themselves, and I don't want to have to think about what that would be like."
Stein said agencies should encourage military veterans and out-of-state officers to apply.
"Law enforcement officers keep our families and communities safe, and we are less safe when there are widespread vacancies," Stein said. "I am proud to join lawmakers and officers to take action to recruit and retain public-spirited people in law enforcement."
Adelman was blunt in his assessment: "If we don't back these officers, they're going to be leaving in droves."