Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins says she needs more officers. Hawkins mentioned to city council that she is changing the patrol schedule to get more cops on the street. It was not part of her quarterly report to city council but came in response to a question from Councilman Larry Wright.
Hawkins said Fayetteville’s pro rata number of police officers per population is below that of other cities our size. But she recognizes that city council, just three years ago, raised the property tax rate to hire additional officers. The city added 40 cops, bringing the authorized strength to 433. “We’re going to 12-hour shifts, putting 42 officers on patrol per shift,” Hawkins told Up & Coming Weekly.
Traditionally, Fayetteville Police have worked three eight-hour shifts, resulting in an average of 26 patrol officers on duty at any given time, according to the chief. Each shift also has supervisory lieutenants and sergeants. Hawkins said she will be promoting three officers to sergeant to improve supervisory efforts. Councilman Johnny Dawkins said the longer shifts could put a hardship on the policemen. “Tired officers can create situations that are unpleasant,” he said.
Chief Hawkins said the department’s personnel strength has stabilized in recent years, resulting in an average turnover of only three officers per month. She noted that 16 rookie cops took their oaths of office last week and that 25 more candidates will be part of the routine overhire employment plan in the January academy.
Officers will have a dependable work schedule that will give them every other weekend off. Monthly shifts will result in two days on duty followed by two days off, then three days on and two days off. Hawkins conceded that officers who work part-time jobs while off duty may have to adjust their secondary schedules but that the P.D. comes first.
Hawkins’ quarterly report to city council contained data explaining the departments work. The FPD’s narcotics and gang units seized a large amount of marijuana over the first nine months of this year. Seizures of opioids were way down, but the narcotics unit alone confiscated 732 pounds of marijuana compared to 43 pounds during the same time period last year. The gang unit seized another 439 pounds of weed. The chief said much of that which was nabbed resulted from two major drug busts.
As for major crimes, homicides, rapes and robberies were down 14.3 percent so far this year. Aggravated assaults rose 21 percent. Hawkins said 35 percent of the assaults were related to domestic violence. Property crimes, including burglaries and larcenies, were down 12.2 percent. Hawkins emphasized the need for motor vehicle owners to lock their cars. She said 812 larcenies were from motor vehicles, 74 percent of which were unsecured.