According to statistics, Greensboro is in the midst of violent crime epidemic.
In 2019, Greensboro set a new record for the number of homicides in a year with 45. In 2020, that record was shattered with 61 homicides, and so far that record of 61 homicides is on track to be shattered in 2021.
At the April 6 City Council work session, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “We’ve all made it pretty clear that public safety is a top priority.”
In 2020, the City Council held two work sessions on the Greensboro Police Department. At the second, held on Dec. 7, 2020, Police Chief Brian James reported that the city had already broken the record for the number of homicides in a year with 57.
James also reported that the Police Department was understaffed by about 40 officers and that police officers in Greensboro were generally paid less than officers in comparable municipalities in North Carolina, including some nearby but smaller cities such as High Point and Burlington.
Following that meeting, the City Council took no action despite public safety being “a top priority.”
On Feb. 23, James presented the Greensboro Police Department Strategic Plan to the City Council and noted that the department was authorized to have 683 sworn police officers but only had 611 sworn and fully trained police officers on the street.
The City Council took no action despite public safety being “a top priority.”
At the Tuesday, April 6 work session, City Manager David Parrish presented his plan to assist the Police Department, which included raising the starting salaries for police officers from $38,987 to $40,212 starting in September. That is a raise of $23.55 a week. Raises for veteran officers would also be made to keep them in line with the raises for new officers.
Parrish also recommended that eight police new positions for the Police Department be authorized in 2022 and eight in 2023.
Parrish said that these recommendations would be included in the 2021-2022 budget he will present to the City Council in May.
Councilmember Justin Outling made a motion to approve the recommendations and met immediate opposition from Vaughan and City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy.
At the City Council meeting that followed the work session on April 6, the City Council did vote unanimously to approve Outling’s motion, so the City Council has now taken action on “a top priority.”