On Friday, May 10, there was a lot of discussion going on behind the scenes between Republican Guilford County commissioners on one pressing question: Should they or shouldn’t they?
Specifically, should they or shouldn’t they go along with an effort led by the Greensboro City Council to establish a Cure Violence program in high crime sections of Greensboro.
Right now, it doesn’t look like the votes are there, but there’s certainly a great deal of discussion going on among all interested parties and the Greensboro City Council is solidly behind the idea. The plan on the table calls for the City of Greensboro and Guilford County to jointly fund about a half million dollars to establish a Cure Violence program in Greensboro. That program would be placed under the Greensboro non-profit One Step Further Inc.
The anti-violence initiative, which got its start in inner-city Chicago before expanding to other cities, uses ex-felons and others with a criminal past to go into high-crime areas of cities and dissuade potential perpetrators from murder and other violent crime.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson, a Republican, said on Friday that Democratic County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman had contacted him to see where he stood on the matter. Branson said he told her that he had major concerns about the proposal.
He added that he believes that even some Democrats on the Board of Commissioners still have questions about the plan.
Still, the four Democrats on the nine-member Board of Commissioners are expected to back the city’s proposal, but the question is whether Cure Violence proponents can find that magic fifth vote that it takes to set anything into action on the county’s side.
Branson said one thing he doesn’t like about the Cure Violence model is that it’s totally detached from any Greensboro Police Department efforts to reduce crime and violence.
“You have the police department and you need to let the police do their job,” he said.
Branson added that there are also concerns about the effectiveness of the Cure Violence model as well as obvious liability concerns that come with employing ex-felons.
At a joint meeting between the Greensboro City Council and the Guilford County commissioners on Tuesday, May 7, three of the five Republican commissioners were no shows and the two that did attend – Branson and Commissioner Justin Conrad – expressed many concerns.
At that meeting, Greensboro City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy made a statement that caused some county officials to do a double take: Kennedy stated that in fact Cure Violence is more of a county responsibility than a city responsibility. No one jumped in to argue with her, but many county officials all along have been asking how this is not totally a City of Greensboro matter since all efforts would be focused in Greensboro and not in other cities or in parts of unincorporated Guilford County.
Branson said this week that other programs may be viable alternatives to Cure Violence, such as programs in schools that work to address the problem of violence.