The Chapel Hill Police Department is strapped for funds and understaffed, but the group won’t lower its hiring standards for anything.
The department currently has 104 sworn police officers, at least 18 officers short of being fully staffed.
“I guess the biggest obstacle is that it’s a lengthy process (to become an officer),” said Lt. Josh Mecimore, spokesman for the Chapel Hill Police Department .
Sworn officers must go through basic law enforcement training in North Carolina or have transferred from another state and meet North Carolina’s requirements.
The basic law enforcement training is a 620-hour, or a 6-month, class, typically taught at Durham Technical College for Chapel Hill officers.
Mecimore said police officers serving Chapel Hill must also complete an additional 4-6 weeklong lateral academy, which familiarizes them with local ordinances and the challenges of practicing law enforcement in a college town.
The police department will gain eight more officers if they all graduate from the police academy at the end of January.
Mecimore said potential officers must also pass rigorous tests to be eligible to apply for a position. Each potential officer must complete a mental and psychological exam, pass a drug test and take a polygraph test, he said.
Mecimore said competition in pay has also been a problem for the department.