(WGHP) — In the last 48 hours, chiefs and sheriffs in the Triad opened up about how tough their jobs have become and the toll it’s taking on the men and women patrolling the streets.
They’re facing staffing shortages, longtime employees taking their lives, scrutiny and thousands of calls for service while they try to adapt and change departments to make policing more proactive and equitable.
Even with a focus on changing the way they police, some crime scenes still haunt them.
“I still see in my mind what we had in Clemmons two weeks ago. I can still smell the gunshot and gunpowder. I can hear the screams. I still wake up in the middle of the night,” Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said.
Kimbrough has seen a lot in his five years as sheriff.
Newly appointed Police Chief William Penn in Winston-Salem has seen a lot as well. At some point, it becomes too much.
“We go to calls when people have lost control from other situations. That’s what officers are going through time and time and time again, and it does weigh on you,” Penn said.
Kimbrough wants to protect the people wearing badges as much as he can.
He’s talking to leaders at Novant Health about establishing a program for deputies to get help before they break down.
“How do I know when it’s my trigger? How do I know when I need to pull back? How do I know that…maybe I need to go on sabbatical for the month?” Kimbrough said.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult culturally for an officer to feel like they can come in and sit down and say…I’m just struggling right now,” said Chief John Thompson with the Greensboro Police Department.
Adding to the pressure, is the community’s perception of the police.
“It becomes 10 times harder when the community does not trust the police department,” Thompson said.
Thompson is working on an internal policy to give officers time to work out on the clock. He sees exercise as a way to boost mental health.
There are also additional counseling sessions available to officers for officers.