Civilian Traffic Enforcement Comes to North Carolina

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome M. Jeanette Pitts to the blog as an author. Jeanette is a Legal Research Specialist at the Criminal Justice Innovation Lab.

According to a report by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, there were over 250,000 traffic crashes in 2021 (276,026, to be exact). Even when crashes involving fatalities and injuries are removed from that figure, the number of crashes involving only property damage still hovers at 200,000. A glance at past year figures and the five-year average reveals that the number of crashes involving only property damage has been over 175,000 for several years.

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The Civilianization of Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies are having difficulty recruiting and retaining sworn officers. The situation is “a crisis for law enforcement,” according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. This local article highlights some of the numbers here in North Carolina. At the time it was written, the Raleigh Police Department was short 150 officers, Winston-Salem was short 20%, and Asheville was short 41%. The Marshall Project offers a contrary view here, arguing that federal jobs data don’t support the concern, but most law enforcement leaders I’ve talked to recently are profoundly worried about staffing, recruitment, and retention. Can the increased use of civilians to do jobs formerly done by sworn personnel be part of the solution?

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