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Dulin discusses APD vacancies and retention issues

Albemarle Police Chief David Dulin spoke before city council Monday night about the department’s need for new officers. The department has 10 vacancies and will host an open house recruitment night at 6 p.m. Monday at its downtown headquarters.

APD continues to sponsor individuals through the BLET program at Stanly Community College. The department has screened applications and narrowed down to at least seven that can pass background checks. Dulin hopes that the open house event can help recruit at least three more prospective law enforcement candidates.

In a similar vein, the city’s fire department has four vacancies with 28 prospective candidate for the positions.

Councilman Benton Dry was concerned not just about recruiting new officers but about keeping them in Albemarle, which has been a problem. He mentioned that many Albemarle officers have left the city to work in larger municipalities in the region.

“We’re a training ground for Charlotte and Concord,” Dry said, noting that two firefighters recently left the city for Concord.

While he’s happy that APD has a crop of candidates that will soon become officers, “I want to see what we’re going to do to retain officers,” Dry said, adding that it’s the responsibility of the council to help APD in that effort.

Dulin mentioned the upcoming city compensation study, which is being performed by an official from the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, will help shed light into how much officers from other municipalities are being paid relative to Albemarle officers. The study, which will be presented to the council in the coming weeks, is comparing Albemarle with 18 local agencies, including Concord, Asheboro, Locust and Stanly County.

“That’s going to help us tremendously,” Dulin said about the study. “We all know pay is a short-lived motivator, but it’s a start.”

Dry said that while pay is important, the “internal dynamics of the organization” is the most crucial piece in providing a solid foundation where employees feel invested and would be less likely to leave.

Dulin noted that all law enforcement agencies deal with similar retention issues. He said that many Concord police officers often leave the city for better pay in Charlotte.

Dulin mentioned that City Manager Michael Ferris has been working with APD to make sure each officer has their own vehicle and the best available equipment. He said he felt optimistic about the future and believes the department is headed in the right direction in terms of retention and recruitment — as long as pay and equipment is similar to that of other departments in the area.

“I try to look at this as an infinite gain, where there’s no ending,” he said. “We’re always striving to do better every day…and you’re always looking to make things better.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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