WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington police say morale in the department has hit a new low. The majority of Wilmington police officers are not happy with their job. That's according to an employee survey at WPD.
50% of WPD staff took a survey conducted by the department.
Nearly 85% said morale at WPD is low or very low and they say it's worse now than it was in previous years.
"We've had a bad year,” Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said. “We've had a lot of violence in this community, and our people have been put in some very bad situations, and it’s been a tough year."
Chief Evangelous says the stressful year has put a strain on officers. But results show pay and benefits are the biggest factors contributing to low morale.
75% said they either disagree or strongly disagree with the merit pay system.
"Pay is a huge issue,” Evangelous said. “It has been dragging down morale here in the organization for a period of time. We're working almost daily with the city manager city council, mayor. They're all committed to making something happen with the pay issue."
While communication was a strong point in the survey with supervisors and co-workers, 70% said communication was the worst with command staff.
"Communication is always a struggle,” Evangelous added. “And accurate and timely communication is always a struggle, so we're working on it and we can always to better."
But many surveyed also found issues with fairness in assignment selection, promotions, performance evaluations and disciplinary practices.
Chief Evangelous says the department has been working on the promotional process but could not tell us much more.
"Those have to be drilled down into. There is no clear explanation what they were talking about, so we're actually going to re-survey those questions,” Evangelous said.
North Carolina Police Benevolent Association Executive Director John Midgette says the survey leaves more questions than answers. He says his organization would be more than happy to help the Chief get more specifics.
Chief Evangelous says they will probably re-survey the department with more specific questions next fall. He says they will be rolling out a new virtual system very soon that will improve communications.