Despite the fact that the total budget recommended by City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba is a whopping $749 million, police salaries were not increased to the level the City Council requested.

However, Jaiyeoba did find a creative way to eliminate the huge number of vacancies in the Greensboro Police Department.  Currently, the GPD has an authorized force of 691 officers and has 571 sworn officers, which means 120 vacancies, although some say it’s really closer to 130.

If the City Council passes Jaiyeoba’s recommended budget, the number of vacancies will immediately fall from 120 to only 80. The recommended budget eliminates 30 officers and takes 10 sworn positions and turns them into nonsworn positions.

Voila, the Police Department will have 40 fewer vacancies on July 1 than it had on June 30 and the monthly reports on police vacancies will look much better.

Councilmember Hugh Holston asked if perhaps more positions could be eliminated from the GPD and save more money.

The GPD has been using the salaries for those unfilled positions to pay the massive amount of overtime required to keep officers out on the streets.

At least one councilmember was not pleased with the fact that, while the City Council asked that the starting salaries of police officers be raised to $57,000, Jaiyeoba chose to ignore that direction, only raising the starting salaries to $52,479.

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I do have a major concern about the police salaries, because right now we are authorized 691 officers and we’re down to 571. That is 20 percent of our department and I think we all know that our top priority was public safety and making sure our community is safe. I know that on May 2 we voted to have the starting salary at $57,000 and, while I realize there are budget constraints, and we need to look at everything I sincerely hope that we can try to stick as close to that as possible.”

Abuzuaiter noted that a nearby municipality had just raised its starting salary for police officers to $60,000 and said that she didn’t want to lose any more officers to neighboring cities that were paying more.