Police plan growth

Perlov seeks funds for new officers

Staff WriterMay 12, 2005 

Police Chief Jane Perlov has asked city officials to fund 42 new positions so the department can keep up with explosive growth in North Raleigh and continue a proactive approach to combating illegal drug trade.

Perlov recently sent the city manager the department's 2005-06 budget request, which included a $4.19-million increase.

About 67 percent of the new money -- $2.81 million -- would be allocated for new salaries and related costs, according to the request.

The request comes one year after the department added 23 positions to its ranks after it asked the city council for the $1.6 million to fund the positions, which included a gang unit.

All of the new patrol officers requested would be stationed in areas of North Raleigh that have seen a housing, business and population boom. Some residents said they welcomed the possibility of an increase in police presence in the busy area.

If this year's request is approved, the Oak City would have 752 sworn officers, up from 716, according to city officials.

Raleigh currently has 2.25 officers per 1,000 residents, according city officials. Police officials said Wednesday they did not yet know how that number would change during the next fiscal year.

Charlotte has a ratio of 2.5 officers per 1,000 residents and Durham has a ratio of 1.5, according to the Web site policepay.net, which tracks staffing numbers and police salaries. In Fayetteville that ratio is 2.63 officers per 1,000 residents and in Greensboro the number is 2.13.

It remains to be seen if City Manager Russell Allen includes the department's request in the budget he will submit to city council next week.

Included in the 42 new positions are:

* Two sergeants to oversee detective divisions in Districts 23 and 26.

* A Captain to manage specialized investigative units in the detective division.

* 18 patrol officers who would be stationed in Districts 21, 22 and 23 in North Raleigh.

* Two automobile attendants and two mechanics for the 385 marked cruisers.

* A new drug unit that would be composed of six detectives and a sergeant. The unit would work with the city's gang unit and drug squads.

"The drug trade remains pretty steady here in Raleigh," Perlov said.

Raleigh does not appear to have seen a dramatic increase in heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine trafficking, Perlov said.

Instead, citizen complaints about street drug trade and undercover work has kept the department's five drug squads busy and has demonstrated a need for more officers.

Arrests made by Raleigh police have increased more than 16 percent in four years, from 89,786 in the 2001-02 fiscal year to an estimated 104,788 in this fiscal year, according to city budget documents.

In a list of prioritized requests, the drug squad was listed as the seventh item requested out of 12, ranking below Perlov's request for additional patrol officers and sergeants. Perlov said the department had other needs that were more pressing than an additional drug unit.

"Areas are just exploding with a great amount of growth," Perlov said. "[The department] hasn't kept up with staffing."

Those who live and work in Raleigh's northernmost regions agreed.

Marcelle Kick, a North Raleigh mother and shopper at Brier Creek, said she felt safe living in the region, but noted the increase in homes and stores has brought more traffic and accidents.

A country club, new subdivisions and a Super Wal-Mart has attracted hundreds of people and cars to the area. It is common to see two or three traffic accidents a day near the shopping center, residents said.

Greg Mills, owner of Foot Solutions in the Brier Creek Commons shopping center, called the growth near Brier Creek "explosive."

Overall, Mills said his interaction with Raleigh police has been positive but agreed that the region needed more officers. He pointed to an incident that occurred a year ago.

Mill said a store employee inadvertently set off a burglar alarm. It took police about 30 minutes to respond.

"Had there been a real problem, it would have been a problem," he said.

Staff writer Jennifer Brevorka can be reached at 836-4906 or jbrevork@newsobserver.com.

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