In one way at least, 2021 in Greensboro has started out much better than 2020.
On the first day of 2020, Greensboro had a triple homicide. And unfortunately the year that began with three homicides on Jan. 1 ended on Dec. 31 with a total of 61 homicides, and the first week of the year didn’t turn out to be the worst week as far as homicides went in 2020. In July, seven people were killed in seven days.
In Greensboro before 2021, the average number of homicides was less than one a week.
But as of Monday, Jan. 4 Greensboro has recorded only one homicide.
The year 2020 was one of transition for the Greensboro Police Department (GPD). On Jan. 1, 2020, the police chief was Wayne Scott, who retired on Jan. 31 and Chief Brian James took over on Feb. 1, 2020.
James had not completed his listening tour of the city, where he planned to hold a community meeting in every part of Greensboro, when in March the coronavirus pandemic hit and the remainder of his planned community meetings were canceled.
The seven murders in seven days in July prompted James to hold a press conference asking for the community’s help. And on Dec. 7, 2020, the Greensboro City Council held a work session with “Violent Crime Discussions” on the agenda.
At that meeting, with the total number of murders at 57, already setting a record for Greensboro, the City Council discussed providing assistance to the Police Department “immediately.”
Nearly a month later, the City Council has taken no action to provide immediate help to the GPD.
The City Council did discuss doing a staffing study to ascertain the personnel needs of the GPD, a study that James requested in March.
At the annual City Council retreat in February 2020, the City Council set a goal of reducing violent crime by 10 percent in 2020. Needless to say, the City Council did not meet that goal. Homicides increased from 45 in 2019 to 61 in 2020, aggravated assaults increased by 8 percent and assaults with firearms increased by 17 percent.