The controversial Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) to the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) is once again on the agenda for the Wednesday, Nov. 17 Greensboro City Council meeting.

For years the JAG funding, which is a grant from the US Department of Justice to local law enforcement agencies, appeared on the agenda for City Council meetings and was passed without comment.  The JAG funding requires no local match and is distributed across the country based on a formula devised by the Justice Department.

The only option the City Council has is to either accept the federal funding to assist the GPD or reject the funding.

All previous City Councils viewed this as a “no brainer” and accepted the federal funding from the Justice Department with little or no comment.

However, in January 2020, the majority on the Greensboro City Council chose to buckle under to demands made by a representative of the Working class & Homeless Organizing Alliance (WHOA) based on inaccurate information and ignore the facts presented by Greensboro Assistant City Manager Trey Davis. 

The result was that Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Tammi Thurm, Sharon Hightower, Michelle Kennedy, Yvonne Johnson voted to reject the federal funding.  Councilmembers Justin Outling, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann voted against rejecting the grant.  Councilmember Goldie Wells was absent from the meeting and Kennedy has since resigned her seat on the City Council.

Because the City Council voted to reject the JAG funding in 2020, the $138,000 that the GPD would have received was split between the High Point Police Department and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department.

Since that vote in 2020, the majority on the City Council has reversed its position and voted to accept the JAG funding.

However, at a recent City Council meeting, the JAG funding became an issue again when Hightower complained about how the JAG money had been spent.  Police Chief Brian James explained that the money had not been spent because it had not been received and the City Council vote Hightower referenced was to apply for the grant, not to receive the grant.