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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Short staffing means the Wilmington Police Department must bring in off-duty officers to help patrol areas plagued by a recent string of shootings.

A 17-year-old boy died in a shooting early Thursday morning near 6th and Kidder streets. Another man was also injured in the shooting. Police also responded to a shooting at 12th and Grace streets later in the day.

“With this in mind, we are using off-duty personnel to patrol on foot and in cars in the hotspot neighborhoods most affected by this recent gun violence,” Police Chief Ralph Evangelous wrote in an e-mail today to City Manager Sterling Cheatham. “There are several specific neighborhoods affected. This will supplement our regularly assigned patrol officers.”

Evangelous told Cheatham he needs to supplement the patrol because WPD has 19 officer position vacancies, which he hopes to fill by mid-July. He said that shortage does not include officers out for training or on leave.

“These efforts will allow us to be visible to our citizens who live in or near the areas of the recent gunfire and increase opportunities for our citizens to share valuable information with us,” Evangelous wrote. “By providing these positive community contacts and working directly with residents, we can bring closure regarding the upswing in firearm related concerns.”

Evangelous said police need help from the public to be effective. He said the staffing plan will be in place until further notice.

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