Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Chief Darrel Stephens is asking the City Council for money to hire more police officers for the first time in his five-year tenure, says the Charlotte Observer. The department’s overtime budget is well over three times what it was three years ago and the crime rate has begun to creep upward. The Council expects a request for 80 to 90 more officers. A new police officer with a four-year degree, including salary, benefits, personal equipment, vehicle use, gas, training and other overhead, costs about $77,000. Entry-level salary for an officer with a bachelor’s degree is $35,517. The population in the area patrolled by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police has grown by more than 42,000 since 2000; the number of officers has remained flat. In July 1999, 144 officers were added with help from a community-oriented policing grant, bringing the number to 1,520.
Ed Connors the Institute for Law And Justice, a Virginia-based firm that helps police departments evaluate staffing levels, said determining how many officers a city needs is complicated. “We tell departments to set standards,” he said, “and then help figure out how many officers they need to meet those standards.” Officers who spend more than 40 percent of their time on calls are stretched too thin, he said.