WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - There are about 560 sworn officers in the Winston-Salem Police Department – officers sworn to keep you safe – the problem is, that’s not enough.
“In talking with some of the other recruiting officers throughout the south and throughout this region, everybody’s kind of hurting for police officers right now,” said Sgt. Neek Readus, of the Winston-Salem Police Department.
The department is about 50 officers short and although they’ve been recruiting locally – and will continue to do so – it’s time to branch out.
“That void is your backup, that void allows people to take holidays and vacation, take a much needed break,” Readus said.
The department will be sending recruiters about 600 miles north, to Suffolk County, New York. The city identified potential recruits by looking at who took the civil service exam in Suffolk County, and found about 17,500 of them.
“This is the first time that I’ve ever heard of this kind of thing, I’ve been with the city 15 years now,” said Winston-Salem Marketing and Communications Director Ed McNeal.
However, of those 17,500 or so, only a few hundred may get hired.
“If they don’t score a perfect score on a civil service exam, they may not actually get a call back for years,” Readus said.
So, Readus and two other officers are hoping to bring the best of the rest to Winston-Salem.
“I’m going with two other officers from our street crimes unit that are actually from New York,” Readus said. “One’s from Brooklyn and one’s from right there in Suffolk County.”
The city has already sent about 2,500 postcards to a some potential officers and the three recruiters will be leaving for New York on Sunday, spending Sept. 19 and 21 at Suffolk County Community College, the 20th and 22nd at Nassau Community College, and Sept. 23 doing free testing at a Holiday Inn Express on Express Drive South in Hauppauge, N.Y.
The recruiters hope to attract recruits with benefits such as:
- Getting paid while in the police academy
- No testing or application fees
- Competitive salaries and aggressive schedule of pay raises
- All uniforms and equipment provided
- $1,000 dollar signing bonus paid after police academy
- Personal patrol cars officers can take home
- Big-city living, small-town prices, mild winters
They also hope to attract officers with different upbringings.
“To see those different ideas, or hear those ideas and the backgrounds that they come from, it helps us better serve the community here because there’s such a wide variety of backgrounds within Winston-Salem,” Readus said.