The Greensboro City Council virtual work session on Thursday, July 15 at 2 p.m. is going to focus mainly on public safety judging from the agenda attachments.
The agenda item is “Police Calls for Service Cohort Review/Report” and that report to be reviewed is titled “Call for Service Research: Understanding Alternative Responses in Greensboro, NC.”
One of the first items is a report on focus groups conducted with Greensboro Police Department (GPD) officers of varying ranks and levels.
The “Key Takeaways” from those focus groups are:
“Officers feel that they are the least well equipped to respond to mental health or crisis related calls”
“In general, officers do not see mental health-related CFS [calls for service] as calls that should be responded to solely by the police.”
“Officers are interested in having a law enforcement supervisor or retired officer in the dispatch role to determine which calls require a law enforcement response.”
“Officers feel that the civil issues they respond to (truancy, child-parent disputes, neighbor disputes) impede them from their actual duty of deterring crime and protecting Greensboro citizens.”
The “Conclusions & Recommendations” are:
“Prioritize updating resource lists of mental health and other services for supporting community members in crisis”
“Educate community members about the role of law enforcement, with an emphasis on appropriate use of 911”
“Consider filling dispatch roles with individuals who have policing experience”
“Provide more frequent and comprehensive in-person training on responding to mental health and crisis calls”
“Develop and implement a protocol for providing officers with historical and contextual information about a caller before they arrive on the scene”
“Evaluate current resources and in-service trainings for officers”
“Solicit more input from early career offices on the training and support needed to respond effectively to mental health and crisis calls”
“Schedule City Council member ride-alongs with GPD officers”
That last recommendation scheduling ride-alongs for city councilmembers is something that City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter who regularly makes ride-alongs has been pushing for at nearly every meeting where the police department has been discussed.
The report appears to be a comprehensive study of ways to allow Greensboro police officers to spend more of their time dealing with law enforcement issues and less time dealing with issues that could better be handled by social workers or mental health counselors.
The report also notes that some people make an inordinate number of calls to 911 for matters that are not law enforcement issues and makes recommendations on how to better handle these constant calls for service from a few individuals.
The virtual work session at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 15 can be viewed here: https://greensboro.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx .