Crime in Greensboro showed a significant drop in 2018.
If you attended the first City Council meeting of the month in any given month during the year and listened to the speakers from the floor, you would think that Greensboro had the worst police department in the country. Usually a couple of speakers call for the police chief to be fired.
But in fact, if the job of the police department is to reduce crime, then the Greensboro Police Department had a stellar year in 2018. Crime in every category from murders to shoplifting was down. In 2018 there were 34 murders compared to 44 murders in 2017 that’s a 23 percent decrease. Rape was down 10 percent in 2018.
Overall violent crimes committed in Greensboro were down 16 percent.
When asked about the crime statistics Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott responded, “We are glad that we had a reduction in each statistical category in 2018, that is good for our citizens and hopefully allows them to feel safer whether they are spending time downtown, out shopping, or just enjoying an evening at home. Part of the reduction is attributed to 2017 being a statistically high year and the numbers returning to normal, but we also had a lot of hard work by some outstanding police officers that contributed to the reduction.”
Scott continued, “The community deserves credit as well, in helping to reduce the numbers. The department developed programs like Safer City, Community Watch, and Gun Stoppers that allowed us to build relationships in the community that had a tremendous impact. We believe that trust and maintaining relationships within the community is key to making our city safer. We want to continue to look at programs that allow us to get the community involved.”
As Scott noted some of the reduction came from 2017 being high crime year. It’s also true that sometimes crime drops as part of a nationwide trend, but at least in North Carolina that doesn’t seem to be the case. Durham, for instance had a 60 percent increase in murders during 2018.
Durham also happens to be the only city in North Carolina with a Cure Violence program, which is a program run by the Durham County Department of Public Health that is designed to reduce the number of murders and amount of violent crime in certain areas.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan and an unknown number of city councilmembers have been holding secret meetings with and unknown number of Guilford County commissioners to negotiate an agreement to start and fund a Cure Violence Program in Greensboro.
When the matter has been discussed publicly City Councilmember Justin Outling has asked for data from a source other than Cure Violence about the success rate of the program. Perhaps that data has been made available to the elected officials in their secret closed meetings, but it has not been made public.
Since the programs the Greensboro Police Department are currently using to fight crime, such as the Safer City initiative and community policing have reduced the murder rate by 23 percent, violent crime by 16 percent and all crime by 9 percent, it seems it would make more sense to put the $300,000 the City Council is planning to spend on Cure Violence and using it to allow the police department to do more of what it is doing.
Perhaps the City Council will have a public discussion of Cure Violence at it’s retreat on Thursday, Jan. 31, but so far the City Council and the County Commissioners have chosen to pursue the program in secret.