The lack of timely response by the Greensboro Police Department was a continuing theme of speakers at Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s town hall meeting on Monday, July 26 at Barber Park.
The town hall meeting was to discuss a proposal that would establish a City of Greensboro Safety Review Board, made up entirely of city employees, to meet with owners of bars and restaurants after a violent incident at their establishments.
However, speaker after speaker talked about calling the police, only to have no one show up. Most of the speakers didn’t blame the police officers, and from their comments many had cordial relationships with police officers. One speaker said on a ride-along with a police officer he kept hearing “10-100” on the radio and didn’t know what it meant until he was told it meant no officer available to answer the call.
Several speakers said that they understood their calls were not being answered because there was no officer available and didn’t blame the police.
Josh Kirkman, one of the owners of Jake’s Billiards, said, “You guys with a depleted police force have put us in a bad situation.”
Drew Wofford, the owner of Chemistry nightclub, talked about security and how bars are being asked to hire off-duty police officers for security and said, “When I put in for off-duty police officers I can’t get any to come.”
He added that when he needed a police officer, “I call and can’t get anybody to come.”
Vaughan and Assistant City Manager Trey Davis spoke about the need to open up lines of communication while the bar and business owners spoke about the lack of response from the police because of the shortage of officers.
Davis noted that the Greensboro City Council had increased the number of sworn officers authorized for the Police Department.
But increasing a number in a budget document doesn’t increase the number of officers out on the street, and the Police Department is currently far below the number of authorized officers.
One speaker said, “This is all smoke and mirrors to make the city look like it is doing something.”
According to the speakers, what they need from the city is to have enough police officers that, when they call for help, a police officers responds, and what they don’t need is to have to meet with some committee to give them advice on how to run their business after something does happen.
The City Council was told that one of the hindrances to hiring new police officers was that Greensboro didn’t offer police officers take home cars when almost all the other jurisdictions in the area did. The City Council declined to spend the money to start providing take home cars.