Greensboro has set a new record for homicides with 61 in 2020.
Police Chief Brian James held a news conference on July 7, after seven people were killed in seven days, to talk about the increase in violent crime and ask for the community’s help.
At that press conference he also noted that, with 29 homicides in 2020, Greensboro was on pace to break the homicide record and that was a record nobody wanted to break.
On Monday, Nov. 30, James held a press conference to talk about the 56 homicides so far in 2020 and noted that with a month to go Greensboro had already broken the previous record of 45 homicides in a year set in 2019.
The Greensboro City Council finally held a work session on violent crime on Monday, Dec. 7.
James noted at that meeting that the police force was understaffed, with 674 sworn officers authorized and only 612 trained sworn officers on the street. James also noted that there were 17 officers who had graduated from the police academy in field training and 17 currently enrolled in the police academy.
Since the Police Department loses about four or five officers a month, mostly from retirement but also by resignation, transferring or otherwise leaving the department, the police academy classes need to graduate about 30 officers to stay even.
On Dec. 7, Greensboro city councilmembers spoke of the need to act “immediately” to provide assistance to the Police Department.
On Dec. 14, Mayor Nancy Vaughan sent an email to councilmembers and city staff that outlined a process to pass a new ordinance requiring places that serve alcohol to have security guards and perhaps metal detectors. The City Council will start working on this ordinance on Jan. 5 and, according to Vaughan’s timeline, finish by May at the latest.
Bars and nightclubs have essentially been closed since March 17 and were completely closed from March to October. Under the current restrictions they cannot serve alcohol indoors, have to stop serving at 9 p.m. and there is a statewide 10 p.m. curfew.
Bars and nightclubs cannot logically be blamed for the increase in violent crime and homicides in 2020, although Vaughan in her email states, “We have seen an increase in violent crime connected to establishments that serve alcohol.”
In March, after taking over as police chief on Feb. 1, James asked for a staffing study noting that the number of police officers had not been increased since 2011 while the city had grown considerably during that time.
The staffing study was once again discussed at the Dec. 7 work session, but it has not been done.
The goal the City Council set in February for 2020 was to reduce violent crime by 10 percent. Instead, the number of homicides has increased from 45 in 2019 to 61 in 2020. The number of aggravated assaults has increased by 8 percent and the number of assaults with firearms has increased by 17 percent.
The Greensboro City Council set a goal of reducing violent crime in February and met on violent crime in December.