It turns out the third time was the charm.
After Mayor Nancy Vaughan brought up providing Greensboro police officers with take-home police cars for the third time at the Wednesday, Nov. 17 City Council meeting, it passed unanimously.
When Vaughan brought the issue up in June, she couldn’t even get a second to her motion. So Vaughan was able to pick-up eight votes in five months.
Although the vote in the end was 9-0, in the beginning it looked like the vote could go either way.
Vaughan said that providing the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) with take-home police cars “would help with recruitment, retention and efficiency.”
Police Chief Brian James was interrogated by councilmembers who clearly did not want to vote in favor of beginning the process of providing take-home police cars for officers by approving the purchase of an additional 20 police cars.
Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said, “I want to see equitable distribution of police cars across the city.”
Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “I agree with you. I don’t want to see all the cars go to west Greensboro.”
Hightower added later, “It’s a concern they are not going to be in my district.”
James said, “It’s really hard for me as chief to legislate where people live in the city.”
James noted that one of the big issues was that the law enforcement agencies all around Greensboro already provided take-home cars for their officers.”
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are losing officers every day to surrounding communities.”
James noted that the Police Department was really short staffed and making up for the lack of patrol officers with overtime and with detectives putting on uniforms and going out to answer calls. He said from an efficiency standpoint, a patrol officer spent about 80 hours a year simply transferring equipment from their personal vehicle to their patrol vehicle and that was 80 hours they could be spending doing police work.
Councilmember Justin Outling asked for figures on how much crime reduction could be expected by providing police officers with take-home cars.
James said that since the departments around Greensboro had been providing take-home cars for over 25 years, any impact it had in the crime rate “is probably undetectable at this time.”
Just to add fuel to the fire, Financial and Administrative Services Director Marlene Druga gave a report on the financial aspect of buying 20 additional police cars, which included financing a new $32 million maintenance garage for the nearly 2,000 vehicles the city owns.
The initial purchase to start the process of providing take-home cars is 20 police cars this year. The plan calls for an additional purchase of 20 cars for five years.
City Manager Chris Wilson explained that the $32 million new city maintenance garage would be needed with or without the purchase of 20 additional police cars.
What he didn’t explain was why that issue was being brought up in the discussion about take-home police cars.
In the end, Johnson and Hightower decided they could vote for the 20 additional police cars even though too many might end up parked in driveways in west Greensboro.
And Outling decided he could vote for it even though he wasn’t given an exact percentage on how much the crime rate in Greensboro would be reduced by having an additional 20 police cars.