Greensboro Police Chief Brian James held a press conference Monday, Nov. 30 to address the dramatic increase in violent crime this year.
James said, “In the City of Greensboro we currently have 56 homicides, more than we have ever had, with a month left in the year. Of those victims, six are white, three are Hispanic and 47 are African American. I, every officer, and civilian employee of the Greensboro Police Department find those numbers unacceptable and are working diligently to address this problem.”
In 2019, Greensboro set a new homicide record with 45, and in 2018 there were a total of 38 homicides in Greensboro.
James, who became chief on Feb. 1 of this year, said that in May he reorganized the department “with a goal to increase efficiency and to specifically address violent crime.”
He noted that so far this year the police have removed over 1,000 guns from the streets, but along with the 56 homicides there have been 1,190 assaults involving firearms, which is a 19 percent increase over the same period in 2019.
James said, “Although we are yielding results through enforcement efforts, this is clearly no enough and we are continuing to review our efforts to determine what we need to do differently.”
In answer to a question, James said that the efforts to reach out to the community had been hampered by the coronavirus restrictions that discourage the kind of one-on-one contact that is needed to gain community confidence.
James also said that they were looking at the resources the Police Department has and asking the question, “Do we actually have enough police resources for a city this size?” But he said the police couldn’t solve the problem along and needed help from the community.
James said, “This is a community problem and will require a community response. We as an organization have reached out to groups comprised of resources from other city departments, organizations and individuals that will look at ways we can begin to assess what issues may lead to violent crime and find ways to address those deeper issues. While police are responsible for responding to violent crime, we as a community must address those factors that lead to violent crime. Many of those factors are rooted in access to employment, housing, education, health care and mental health care to name a few.”
James noted that the people involved in the surge of violent crimes tend to be younger and that only a few years ago many were in middle school. He said, “How do you get from middle school to carrying a gun and trying to shoot someone?”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Sharon Hightower and Goldie Wells all spoke at the press conference and asked for the community’s help.