The Greensboro Police Department has longer response times than other comparable cities in North Carolina, according to a study by the North Carolina School of Government.

Greensboro also has a dearth of police patrol cars compared to the 14 cities in the state covered by that study. But the number of police patrol vehicles might not be the most significant factor in the response times.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said a factor in the slower response times not considered by the study is the size and shape of Greensboro.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case it appears a map may be worth more than a thousand.

Take a look at the map of Greensboro and imagine how long it would take a police officer to travel to that island of Greensboro to the southwest near Jamestown or to any of the islands to the east between Greensboro and Sedalia.

Greensboro annexed the outer loop to the south and east of the city, which means the Greensboro police are responsible for law enforcement on the loop. The main reason the city gave for annexing that land was to make the entire loop a scenic corridor. If there was a discussion about adding all those miles to the area patrolled by the Greensboro Police Department, it was determined by the City Council to be less important than having control over commercial signage on the outer loop.

In 2011, the North Carolina legislature passed new laws governing annexation that basically limit municipalities to annexing land only when the owners request it.   So Greensboro can’t go out and fill in the gaps as it would have done under the old annexation laws.

Greensboro also currently has a policy that it won’t extend water and sewer service to property until the annexation process is underway. As a result of this policy, new development in areas outside the city that have access to Greensboro water and sewer service have to request annexation in order to receive the same water and sewer service that their neighbors in unincorporated Guilford County are receiving because they acquired it under previous policies that did not require annexation.

And since the City Council rarely turns down one of these annexation requests, the map of Greensboro is becoming more of a patchwork rather than less. So one or two lots in a neighborhood may be in the city of Greensboro while the remainder of the neighborhood is not, and under the current laws likely never will be.

It doesn’t make it easy for the Greensboro police officers patrolling those areas, and the City Council by annexing one area here and one area there isn’t making it any easier.