The Greensboro City Council has found a clever way to defund the police without openly defunding the police, thus avoiding the controversy that would cause.
To defund the police – which is what it appears the majority of the City Council would like to do – would take a vote, and people who are in favor of less violence and safer streets would be upset.
But the path the City Council has chosen is to set “safest city” as a top priority and then not take action to make the city safer, such as allocating more money to the Greensboro Police Department (GPD).
The City Council has chosen to keep the salaries for Greensboro police officers below that of competing jurisdictions. It’s not a budget issue. The city has piles of cash. The council also refuses to provide patrol officers in Greensboro with take-home police cars, something that every competing law enforcement agency in the state does provide.
By keeping the salaries low and refusing to provide the benefits that other law enforcement agencies provide, the City Council can rest assured that the number of vacancies in the Police Department, now close to 20 percent, will continue to grow.
This is a brilliant move by a City Council that wants to defund the police but doesn’t want to do so openly. It is now getting to the point where the number of vacancies will start to grow at a more rapid rate due to trained officers leaving for jurisdictions where they are not required to work massive amounts of overtime, plus they get their own car. The quality of the police recruits will also drop as Greensboro will be forced to take recruits that weren’t accepted by other jurisdictions, just to try and fill classes.
So, in a few years the Greensboro Police Department will be facing massive vacancies, and when officers retire they will be replaced with new recruits that would have never been accepted by the GPD just a few years ago.
No amount of polishing can turn a piece of gravel into a diamond. The result of starting with lower quality recruits is going to lead to more problems out on the street. More problems will give the City Council more fuel to provide less funding for the police.
If you think it’s the wild West out there right now, just wait until the GPD is down another 100 officers, which is on its way.
If the City Council wanted to support the police, the solution is simple. The salaries for police officers have to be raised at least to the same level as competing agencies and at the very least every patrol officer has to be provided with a take-home car. Greensboro is flush with money. Not only did the city receive $59.4 million in American Rescue Plan funds that, because of an accounting trick, had no restrictions. The City Council also increased the revenue raised by property taxes by 30 percent last year.