In 2023, Greensboro appears to be on track to break a record no one wanted to see broken – the total number of homicides in a year.
In 2020, Greensboro set a record with 62 homicides. So far, in a little less than seven months of 2023, Greensboro has had 42 homicides. If the second half of the year is anything like the first half, then 2023 will be another record setting year. In July 2020 the homicide count for Greensboro was 35.
In 2022, Greensboro had 41 homicides, so 2023 is already deadlier than 2022. The question is, how much deadlier.
In 2021, there were 53 homicides in Greensboro, which was down from 2020 but still the second highest total on record for Greensboro.
In 2020, when the record for homicides was set, the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) was short about 100 sworn officers. In the first half of 2023, the GPD was short about 130 sworn officers. But since the new fiscal year began on July 1, the GPD is only down about 90 officers.
It’s not that the GPD hired 40 new officers on July 1, but that Police Chief John Thompson agreed to give up 30 sworn positions and reclassify 10 positions so the number of authorized positions for sworn officers dropped from 689 to 649 and, voila – the GPD was short less than 100 sworn officers for the first time in years.
The Greensboro City Council did, finally, in the 2023-2024 fiscal year budget, take action to give the GPD some much needed help. The City Council requested that the starting salaries for police officers be raised to $57,000. However, City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba was adamant that the salaries only be raised to $55,000, and the majority of the City Council agreed. It is far more expensive than simply paying new recruits more, because salaries all the way up the line have to be increased so that new recruits are not being paid more than experienced officers, and so forth.
One of the other impediments to hiring new police officers is that the GPD, unlike other law enforcement agencies in the state, does not provide take-home cars for patrol officers. The City Council voted to provide 20 additional police cars a year for five years on Nov. 18, 2021, and on July 7, 2023, the first 10 of those take-home cars were actually provided to police officers.