Not only is Greensboro short at least 120 police officers, it appears that soon officers will be chasing criminals on foot because the city is just about to run out of police cars.
Assistant City Manager Larry Davis, at the Tuesday, June 6 City Council meeting, said that the Greensboro Police Department was down to one backup police car.
Davis said, “One fender bender and we are out of police cars.”
The agenda item was to allocate $1 million to purchase 24 police vehicles from a local dealer to provide backup vehicles and retire vehicles that need to be taken out of service.
Even if the vehicles can be purchased immediately, the city does not appear to have the ability to upfit vehicles for police in any reasonable amount of time. In November 2021, the City Council voted to purchase an additional 20 police vehicles a year to provide take-home cars for patrol officers. Since that time, reportedly 40 vehicles have been purchased but not a single one has been completely upfitted and turned over to the Police Department.
Assuming that there is no hanky-panky with the take-home cars and everything the city staff is saying about the inability to have cars upfitted in a timely manner is on the up and up, it takes over 18 months for the city to purchase a vehicle and turn it into a Greensboro police car.
If the city only has one backup vehicle and a bunch of vehicles that need to be replaced, it stands to reason that these 24 vehicles the city plans to purchase won’t be on the streets in 2023 and perhaps not in 2024.
Despite the fact that the council was told the city was in desperate need of additional police vehicles, Councilmember Sharon Hightower spoke against purchasing the vehicles because she said the city bus system needs improvements. Hightower also voted against purchasing the police vehicles.
However, the motion to approve the purchase passed on an 8-1 vote.
Councilmember Zack Matheny described the purchase as a “no-brainer.” But Hightower repeatedly interrupted him and accused Matheny of interrupting her. Hightower then interrupted Councilmember Goldie Wells, who ignored the interruption, and then interrupted Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter when they were speaking on the topic.