GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The sergeant overseeing the Greensboro homicide unit says his team is stretched thin.
“When I watch the numbers go up, that concerns me,” said Sgt. Jarrod Waddell, the supervisor of the homicide unit.
So far this year, there have been 60 homicides in the city. That’s up from a total of 43 last year, 54 homicides the year before and is on pace to surpass the 64 homicides in 2020.
Many of those cases are active. This year, there are 37 cases out of the 60 still unsolved. The detectives are also working on about 20 cases from each of the previous three years. All those cases add up, and burnout is a concern.
The supervisor wants to add at least one more detective to the team to help with the caseload so the detectives are not overwhelmed. Right now, each homicide detective has anywhere from four to six cases at one time.
“70 homicides between 14 detectives is easier to manage than 70 or 12 detectives,” Waddell said.
He oversees a team of 10 homicide detectives. Wadell and his corporal also contribute to the caseload.
“With the numbers we have had in the past that are lesser, I‘ve watched the stressors affect people,” Waddell said.
The department started a new strategy to ease some of the burden.
“I also look to the other detectives within the division,” Waddell said. “What we will do is say, ‘I need robbery detectives to assist with interviews. It’s a hot scene. I need crimes against persons detectives. I need property crimes detectives,’ so it’s not just falling on homicide.”
Some cases are cleared quickly, and others take time.
“The cases don’t go away. They remain active until there is a disposition on it, until we identify a suspect on it, so we will keep the cases open and as long as leads come in. We will continue to follow up with those leads,” Waddell said.
He assigns a detective a case, and they stick with it all the way to the end no matter how long it takes.
“It takes time to do a homicide investigation, and it is a commitment,” Waddell said.
The time and the emotional toll can be intimidating for new homicide detectives. but the current team pushes forward no matter how high their homicide numbers get.
“We are still trying to be effective with what we have because we know they are going to come. We just don’t know when or by how many,” Waddell said.
There is no timeline for when a new detective could be added to the homicide unit.