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Council approves request to add four more officers to city’s police department

Beginning July 1, Washington will have the money to hire four additional police officers.

During its budget work session Tuesday, the City Council unanimously voted to allocate the funds for the new officers in the city’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget. Stacy Drakeford, the city’s director of police and fire services, requested the funds. Those four new employees would cost the city $210,156 in the upcoming 2018-2019 fiscal year, which begins July 1, according to documents presented to the council.

The funding approved by the council covers the officers’ salaries. Drakeford told the council he would use other revenue sources to equip the officers.

A significant increase in the number of calls of service responded to by Washington police personnel during a five-year period prompted the request, Drakeford said.

“During the past 5 years the calls for service has increased by 10,351. In 2012, calls for service were 22,325 and 2017 calls for service was 32,676, This equates to a 46 percent increase in calls for service,” wrote Drakeford in documents presented to the council.

“Those calls for services are anything from accident investigations, traffic investigations, citizens assist, foot patrols, business checks — all the different kinds of calls we get from domestic violence, loud music calls, welfare checks,” Drakeford said.

In 2010, the Washington Police Department had 49.5 full-time employees, falling to 41 full-time employees in 2017, according to the document. During that five-year period, the number of patrol officers declined from 26 officers to 22 officers, the number of detectives fell from seven detectives to four detectives and the command staff decreased from five people to four people.

The decrease in the number of full-time employees has resulted in cancellation of vacation leave and training to meet the minimum shift standard, according to Drakeford. Despite the drop in the number of full-time employees, the city’s major-crimes rate had declined in recent years, he noted.

“If I get four, I can put more feet in boots on the ground. I’m not asking for any command-staff positions. I’m talking about putting people on the ground to have a third shift,” Drakeford said. Currently, officers work in a two-shift staffing setup. One shift runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the other shift working 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The proposed third shift would work hours that could overlap the existing shifts in an effort to increase policing duties when most needed, Drakeford explained.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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