There was no good news to report at the Greensboro City Council Monday, Dec. 7 work session on violent crime.
Police Chief Brian James reported that so far in 2020 Greensboro has had 57 homicides compared to 45 in all of 2019 and 40 in 2018.
At the current rate Greensboro will have over 60 homicides in 2020.
James compared Greensboro to two cities, Winston-Salem and Durham. Both are smaller, but Durham is not far behind with a population of 283,000 compared to 300,000 for Greensboro.
Winston-Salem with a population of 252,000 has had 25 homicides this year and in 2019 had 28 homicides. Durham has had 32 homicides this year and had 38 in 2019. Neither of those cities has had the surge in homicides that Greensboro has experienced.
Some councilmembers have explained the increase in homicides in Greensboro this year as part of a national trend, but if that is true then Durham and Winston-Salem have both managed to avoid that trend.
The City Council’s solution to the uptick in homicides in recent years was to contract with One Step Further in 2019 to run a Cure Violence program in the Martin Luther King Jr. and Smith Homes neighborhoods. The executive director of One Step Further is Councilmember Yvonne Johnson. The City Council last month voted to renew the contract with One Step Further for $399,000 to run the program for another year, even though the statistics show that Cure Violence has not reduced homicides in the only two areas that it operates. In 2019, the City Council spent $500,000 to get the Cure Violence program started and run it for the first year.
So far in 2020 there have been 1,895 aggravated assaults, which includes 1,309 assaults with firearms; both figures show a significant increase from 2019.
James noted that he had reorganized the GPD to concentrate on violent crime and was using the time that in a normal year officers would be in court to put more officers into neighborhoods.
He said they had increased the monitoring of people on pre-trial release who are required to wear a monitor and from that had found several people wearing monitors at the scene of violent crimes.
James noted that the last time the number of sworn officers was increased was 2011 and said, “We need to fund a staffing study for the Police Department.”
Councilmember Justin Outling said that it was at a meeting almost a year ago “that it was identified that a staffing study was desired.”
City Manager David Parrish said that the staffing study got lost in the COVID-19 issues.
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “If the police chief feels we have these immediate needs, how can we make them immediately done?”
Councilmember Sharon Hightower suggested that a community crime task force be created.
A community crime task force? Hightower is (like the rest of them) is silly.
For $399,000 a year we should be able to get a detailed evaluation from the One Step Further organization. They have received approximately $998,000 over two years and violent crime is increasing and the organization can not publish or provide any detail as to why after they have been tasked to reach out in the community to slow down violent crimes.
Seems the City Council has a history of giving Monies to a group to address a need only to never require the receiving organizations to provide reporting of their activities and where these monies ore being spent…
“Got lost in the Covid-19 issues” like how to lock out public speakers, continue funding council member run nonprofits, mandating citizens surrender all control of their businesses and operational hours to the whim of the Mayor.
If it is par for the course for our Mayor to cavort about bars and country club dining rooms daily in a hypocritial manner and lecture citizens daily about her priorities while Greensboro burns.
Cure for Violence has not cured the problem. We cannot blame cure for violence for the increased murders BUT we can blame council for micro- managers the police department.
Council has blood on their hands as they tie the hands of the police department. Chief take back your Department! We the citizens deserve better. The anti-police council needs to let the chief run his department as needed “without interference”.
Community crime task force. Baloney. What we need is more police officers on the beat and judges who will assess bond amounts and sentences that mean something. We also need a council who lets the police do their job while they keep out of the department. Just think what could have been accomplished with the $880,000 handed to council member Johnson. Has she been asked for a breakdown of where this money went? What is her salary? Another failed “community based program”!
I know, why not just give ALL the council persons $500,000 each to create their own ‘Cure Violence’ program? Seems reasonable to me. I mean it’s working and highly effective isn’t it? Since Mrs Johnson just received another $400,000 it must be right? If she can show such a DRASTIC improvement in her area to warrant a renewal, why not implement it in each representative’s area? Winner winner, Chicken Dinner in every pot!