Smithfield PD Suspends Narcotics Unit Due To Critical Staffing Shortage

Detectives Division Down To 3 Officers, Police Chief Says

SMITHFIELD – There is a police officer hiring crisis in North Carolina and the United States. Nationwide, police resignations were up 47 percent last year and retirements jumped by 19 percent.

Police Chief Pete Hedrick speaks to the Smithfield Town Council during a November 14, 2023 meeting. Johnston County Report Photo

There are fewer people entering the law enforcement profession. The crisis means fewer officers to respond to calls, and in some cases longer response times.

In Smithfield, Police Chief Pete Hedrick received approval Nov. 14 from the town council to implement a hiring and retention incentives plan. New hires, with their Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) certification in hand, will receive a $5,000 bonus just to go to work as a Smithfield police officer. Existing officers on the force will receive a $7,500 retention bonus. Current civil employees will receive $2,000 to $5,000 bonuses.

“We need stability. I need to maintain the people we have now,” Chief Hedrick said during the town council meeting. The department is allotted 37 full-time positions. Twenty-two positions are currently filled, and two other future officers are attending BLET classes and must graduate before they can go on the road. That leaves 13 vacancies, equal to a 35 percent job vacancy.

Hedrick wrote a letter to the town council informing them, because of the staffing shortage, he was forced to suspend the Narcotics unit. Those officers are now responding to everyday calls. The police chief also said the Detectives division is down to only three officers.

“Smithfield Police Department finds itself at a very critical time for its future,” Chief Hedrick wrote in the letter. “We are currently down 13 positions. We have suspended our Narcotics unit and currently have only 3 officers assigned to detectives’ duties. This places most of the workload on our road patrol officers, who are already running short-handed. Cases that should be assigned to detectives for follow up are being worked by patrol. While we see some light at the end of the tunnel, we currently have four officers awaiting completion of BLET or approval from the State. If these officers successfully complete our FTO (field training officer) program, which is not a guarantee, we will still be 9 positions down.”

“We simply cannot afford to lose any personnel at this pivotal juncture. The remaining staff members have been struggling with this staffing shortage, and to their credit have remained with the Town. The profession of law enforcement is filled with stressors, being shorthanded is a major contributor to job dissatisfaction and burnout.”

Chief Hedrick said the department, if fully staffed, would have 4 general crimes detectives and 2 narcotics detectives working. In general crimes, there is currently only 3 full-time officers, a lieutenant, sergeant, and one detective working cases as well as other administrative duties.

If the department can become fully staffed in the future, the police chief wants to increase the size of the narcotics unit from two to four officers, plus add a task force detective.

The Smithfield Police Department is not the only agency struggling to hire new recruits. Just over 500 fewer people entered the BLET program in North Carolina in 2022, compared to 2019. For many law enforcement agencies like Smithfield, hiring simply can’t keep pace with job losses.


    • the Republican Party is the law and order party huh? They want their own candidate to get by with breaking countless laws , they want to do away with the department of Justice the FBI. Even Trump supporters are trying to assassinate FBI agents, so yeah it’s not the Democrats fault. The maga idiots which Johnston County seems to be full off is nothing but a bunch of fascist, book banning, judicial hating (take at look at truth social to see how much the party loves law and order), even mom’s for liberty is quoting Hitler now. Your party has gone full on fascist. We just don’t want the police shooting unarmed people. Nor should the police be shooting someone for shoplifting, which is not a death penalty crime. Police are not the judge and jury of the judicial system. It is not their job. If their life is truly in danger, then yes, but then to automatically pull out a gun within three seconds of pulling up to a park – I believe it was Chicago(It has been a while so it might not have been ) and shoot a 12-year-old kid because someone said he had a gun which turned out to be a toy gun , I believe, no that’s wrong in any society. Our cops are not the military and so many so badly want to be and that’s an issue. I suggest you go to YouTube and watch Beau of the fifth column he has a whole section on just police videos and he’s been asked to train police. And by the way, he lives in northern Florida. Don’t think it’s a Democrat or Republican. Not really sure how he leans. He doesn’t say just watch his videos and learn.

  1. This is so SAD to hear but I am not surprised at all. I know first-hand that officers do NOT get paid enough to put their life in danger every single day. Heck, they can’t much defend themselves either. I mean, you almost have to be shot to be able to fight back. Oh and did I mention that their salary is pitiful! TOWN OF SMITHFIELD you need to do better because you are losing and HAVE lost some good, good officers!

    • Police officers are not even in the top 10 of most dangerous jobs in America, and have not been for as long as I could find looking back. It’s a myth that everybody has just fallen into and police officers believe. I know about a dozen police officers and sheriff deputies And none have ever had to draw their weapon ever. When I looked up the statistics, the number one reason police officers die is by suicide which is really sad and that means we need to address the mental health issue with the police officers. I do know police officers have a high alcoholism rate, a high divorce rate, and a high domestic violence rate. also on the death rate list was vehicle accidents which makes sense. It also singled out that police officers aren’t required to wear seatbelts and I know this is true. Or at least it used to be. I asked the three deputies that I know why they didn’t wear seatbelts and they said it so they can get in and out of the vehicles quickly and respond if they need to. I I asked if they were ever in such a situation in their combined 75 years of law-enforcement and no they were never in such a situation. Of course they serve in Johnston County or did two retired now. There may be other areas in the country where it’s dangerous to be law-enforcement but Johnston County is not one of them. I am old enough to remember when Paul West got shot in the line of duty and that was a really horrible time. But that was very rare. There are more unarmed or innocent civilians killed by law-enforcement in an average year than law enforcement killed in shootouts with criminals. Notice I said average year, not every year.
      it is much more dangerous to be a logger, a fisherman, a construction worker, a roofer and several other occupations than it is to be a policeman. Like I said policemen aren’t even on the top 10 most dangerous list in America…
      It’s a frustrating job, it’s a low paying job and it’s a thankless job Just like being a teacher, a social worker, any job in retail, I would say fireman, but I offhand don’t know how much the average non-volunteer fireman makes. our police officers, need to stop trying to want to be like our military they’re not, nor do they need the same type of weapons our military has. one of the problems this country has is trying to police morality, and that never works. Also, putting someone in jail who has the disease of addiction that also never works.

      • I am sure I cannot change your complete ignorance with a response from your incoherent posts, but here goes anyway.
        Do you realize that what you have said is an absolutely insult to every police officer and deputy that is serving or has ever served- even to those you claim to know personally? If you don’t believe it is a dangerous job, why don’t you go out and do the job yourself? Have you ever had to physically fight someone who is so high on illegal substances he/she does not feel pain? Have you had to respond to a call where a suspect has a gun? No, you have not. Speaking of, you mentioned the 12 year old that was shot in Chicago because he had a “toy gun”. That was actually a pellet gun that was identical in appearance to a pistol. The 12 year old continued to wave the gun even after being told three times to drop the gun by the responding officers. In seconds, would you be able to determine what’s a real gun or a fake gun? I highly highly doubt it. Police do not want to be the military, but yes, they are trained take control of chaos and to cease threats to society. Also, let’s talk about all those deputies you claim to know that have never had to draw their weapon. Where do they work? I’m guessing maybe a courtroom or the jail? Or maybe you dont actually know any? I bet that’s why you are so hateful and negative toward police- because you couldn’t be one with your tendency to embellish and tell lies. Or maybe because you’re just scared to actually do the job. Next time you call 911 for an emergency, you should tell the responding officer exactly what you said in these posts. I bet he/she still helps you because that’s that he/she is selflessly sworn to do.

        • My ex husband was a police officer so I know what they go through. But police are not listed in the top 10 dangerous jobs and that is just a fact. Top 25 – yes. I love all my friends who are deputies and officers. They work hard at their job as all my friends so- social workers, teachers, customer service reps, etc. I even know a bail bondsman. The officers and deputies know, several are retired, some are now detectives, some still on patrol. Normal traffic stop , no reason to pull out your gun. The detectives aren’t shooting anyone. I have always backed the blue , I don’t back the ones who are the bad ones – and every profession has bad people in it. There are bad teachers, there are bad check out clerks at Walmart , and there are bad cops. To say there isn’t is ignorant. Police officers are not the ones they need to be answering the calls addressing mental health issues and that has been a problem for a long time. Several states have been partnering their smaller counties (to start off with and see how it works) combining the police and mental health professionals to be on hand to answer calls when both could assist each other. They will at some point be looking at the data to see if this program works better since most police are not trained as mental health professionals (and vice versa). I talked to one of my state patrol friends and he thinks this is a program that should be implemented as much as possible everywhere and it could save numerous lives. There are also programs where police officers are teamed up with autistic individuals. Great success with that as well. Many autistic people are non verbal and cannot communicate with the police if they were to ever be in an encounter. Also police officers are now receiving training on how to recognize invisible disabilities. Deafness is not something that one can “see” for example. Meanwhile you keep thinking you know me – I am with my friend, who is a retired deputy and his wife for dinner. Even he said the last thing we need is to make joco red again… the lies that Trump told have caused too much hate, plus look what those people did to the police at the Capitol! Trumps rhetoric towards our judicial system is reprehensible and no one who backs the police can be okay with this. These are words from my friend to you ….like he said – words matter.

  2. The problem is Mike Scott the town manager. The only thing he is managing to do is run the town into the ground. I feel bad for the officers of Smithfield for having to work for him. The sad part about Mike Scott is he can’t be voted out. The town has to fire him and fire him they should.

  3. The Town Council should hold most of the blame, they were warned time and again to be competitive, yet for the majority of my career they ignored the Chief. Not the smartest guys in the room after all.

  4. Listen everyone
    This is not a democrat problem. This town is ran by republicans. This is your town managers doing Go and look at how much they make at parks and rec then look at our police officers I have been complaining about this for years. The town manager is your problem but the mayor want do nothing about it

    • With all of the anti police rhetoric ( spread mostly by one group) it is no wonder people are getting out of law enforcement and few are going into the profession. Nobody gets into law enforcement to get rich. They do it because it’s a calling . Just like teachers. Nobody expects to get rich when they go into any public service job, when you’re made to be the villain instead of the solution, people get out.

      • The anti-police rhetoric is spread by people like Marjorie Taylor, Green, and Lauren Boebert and all the idiots like that in Congress. oh, and add Jim Jordan to the list he’s definitely not for law and order, nor is George Santos.
        But as far as any office in Johnston County are there any held by Democrats and that’s a real question for someone to answer. if there’s not any offices held by Democrats in this county and y’all don’t like the way the county is run and it’s only Republicans holding office then maybe the Republicans aren’t doing a good job and maybe someone should elect Democrat because apparently they’re Republicans are running this county into the ground according to everything I read on Joco reports. everyone is always complaining about the school board which I believe is full of Republicans. I think all the mayors of all the towns are Republicans and people complain about the towns. but hey, you get what you vote for just make sure none of y’all vote for a fascist for the president next year. some are too stupid to see what’s coming even with Project 2025 already published.

          • They won’t let me post websites but yes.
            Aug 15, 2022 –
            Politics & Policy
            “Defund the FBI” complicates GOP’s midterm messaging.
            Republicans used the “defund the police” slogan after George Floyd’s murder to paint the Democratic Party as radical. But since the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, a growing number of GOP candidates and lawmakers are rallying around their own calls to defund or abolish federal law enforcement agencies.

            Why it matters: The new demands muddle a narrative embraced by Republicans long before the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 2020 — that they are the party of law enforcement. They also show how much former President Trump has reshaped his party.

            Strategists say it could jeopardize the GOP’s chances in some contests in November.
            The big question: Could this become the new Trump loyalty litmus test?

            Driving the news: Dan Bolduc and Bruce Fenton, leading Republican Senate candidates in New Hampshire, said in a recent debate they believe the Department of Homeland Security and top agencies need to be significantly “reduced” and called for abolishing the FBI.

            Anthony Sabatini, a leading primary candidate in Florida’s 7th District, has long called to defund the FBI and tweeted on the night of the Mar-a-Lago search that Florida should “sever all ties with DOJ immediately” and arrest FBI agents on sight.
            Tim Baxter, a candidate in New Hampshire’s 1st District, expressed support for abolishing the FBI in a debate on Saturday. Another candidate, Karoline Leavitt, called to “investigate, litigate and incarcerate them.”
            J.R. Majewski, the GOP nominee in Ohio’s 9th District, says on his website’s issues page: “I will fight to abolish all unconstitutional three letter agencies,” including the CIA.
            Sandy Smith, the GOP nominee in North Carolina’s 1st District, tweeted a poll with “Abolish the FBI” as one of the options.
            Asked in a recent radio interview whether Republicans are “actually going to be willing” to defund the FBI, IRS and other agencies, Bo Hines, the Trump-endorsed GOP nominee in North Carolina’s 13th District, responded: “Well, I mean we have to.”

            When his campaign was contacted for comment for this story, a spokesman provided a statement from Hines that said: “I fully support the men and women within these agencies that work tirelessly in good faith to keep our communities safe, but I do not support the political hacks that use these agencies as vessels to go after the American people.”
            The position also has been embraced by Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi and Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who is selling “Defund the FBI” merchandise.

            What they’re saying: “Crime has been a winning issue for Republicans, and they need to be careful not to jeopardize that,” Alex Conant, GOP strategist and founding partner of Firehouse Strategies, told Axios.

            While it’s natural for House Republican candidates to tap into grassroots anger to generate turnout and contributions, Conant warned that Democrats may be able to use that “to neutralize what has been a very effective issue for Republicans.”
            Ken Spain, a founding partner of Narrative Strategies and former GOP campaign official, told Axios: “This might score political points in the handful of remaining GOP primaries, but it will serve as a textbook case study in how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the general election.”
            The backdrop: Republicans have long used the left’s “defund the police” slogan to attack Democrats — and Democratic operatives have warned lawmakers to steer clear of anti-law enforcement rhetoric ahead of the midterm elections.
            The National Republican Congressional Committee has routinely hit Democrats this cycle over ties to groups that support defunding the police.
            “Every voter knows Democrats are the party of defund the police. Americans are experiencing record violent crime as a direct of Democrats’ efforts to vilify law enforcement and push pro-criminal policies like cashless bail,” said NRCC spokesperson Michael McAdams.
            The other side: Democrats are already using calls to defund the FBI to turn that dynamic on its head.

            Wiley Nickel, Hines’ Democratic opponent, fundraised off the Republican’s comments — calling them a “slap in the face to every hard-working law enforcement official.”
            “While the other side wants to defund the FBI, we want to fund our kids’ future,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Democrats’ Senate candidate in Ohio, said last week.
            The campaign manager for one swing district Democratic campaign told Axios: “The way we would consider using it … is just a complete out-of-touchness the Republican Party has allowed into their mainstream.”
            What we’re watching: After Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) told Axios that calls to defund the FBI make Republicans look “unserious,” he received a MAGA lashing online.

            Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who represents a swing district, told Axios: “The Republican message should not be ‘defund the FBI,’ I think [it’s a] mistake.”
            Even some Trump-aligned Republicans in key races aren’t going along with the calls. Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters’ campaign told Axios he wants to reform, but not defund, the FBI.
            Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note that Anthony Sabatini is running in Florida’s 7th District, not 3rd.
            Aug 15, 2022 –

  5. The incumbent mayor and incumbent council members were all re-elected by wide margins just two weeks ago. It’s time to but the blame where it belongs: Not on “democrats.” Not on the mayor. Not on the town council. The citizen of Smithfield are to blame here. They had a chance to change things, but chose to re-elect the same folks. #VoteOutIncumbents #ReapWhatYouVote.

    • Unfortunately they all run for one specific side of town. If the elections were such as the top candidates with the greatest numder of votes period, thus all candidates taking responsibility for the town as a whole, few if any would be reelected. You have to reside on the side of town you run on. How about just live in Smithfield and take to top candidates with the most votes? You would get new blood and new ideas. The system as of now is rigged.

  6. Unfortunately the war on drugs was lost a long time ago, people are going to do exactly what they want and ridiculous laws aren’t going to change anything, locking people up for drugs doesn’t work rehabilitation and the proper resources can work. And why is Marijuana still illegal on a federal level it makes absolutely no sense when the taxes from this could help out in numerous ways.

    • Policing morality is and always has been a lost cause. Legalize drugs and put money into why people use drugs in the first place. Some use it to elevate pain, which is ok. Others sadly get addicted to the “harder”drugs. Queen Victoria was a regular user of opium! I don’t use drugs nor do I drink alcohol or smoke. Alcohol and cigarettes kill more people than most realize. If anything should be illegal it should be alcohol and cigarettes but you can bet that will never happen. Our health insurance is expensive because of tobacco (for one reason) but here in NC you don’t hear people complaining about that. They would rather blame President Biden. I do wish they would legalize marijuana, from studies done in Europe it has many uses for different medical conditions and would help alleviate the opioid crisis. Politicians are useless….we need to self or community govern and see if that works.

  7. Unbelievable, why don’t we just make everything legal. Rape, murder, theft, drugs? Where does it stop. It’s called anarchy. Without law and order that’s what you have. That is what is coming, and you who are asking for will be the first crying for help.

    • That’s a ridiculous argument. There are a some crimes that truly hurt other people – like rape, murder etc. Addicfion is a disease. Yes, some people that are addicts commit a majority of petty crimes and until they are treated for their addiction will probably continue to do so because they can’t hold down jobs. Prisons and jails were suppose to help people integrate back into society but have failed helping with addiction. I don’t have the answer as that was not my major in college, but there is a solution out there. There will always be some crimes that require a prison sentence but not every crime does and some things don’t even need to be classified as crimes actually. Marijuana should be legal as should some other drugs if alcohol and tobacco are legal, and they are both addictive substances, then there is no excuse for other drugs to remain illegal.

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