This week the Greensboro City Council should be getting thank you notes from Guilford County and High Point.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners is expected to accept a Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) of $250,000, which is $136,900 for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department and $113,000 for the High Point Police Department.
Originally, $138,000 of that grant was awarded to the Greensboro Police Department, $61,000 to the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department and $51,000 to the High Point Police Department.
However, on Jan. 21, 2020, the Greensboro City Council voted 5-3 to turn down the JAG from the US Department of Justice because a member of the Working class & Homeless Organizing Alliance (WHOA) said that accepting the grant would mean that the Greensboro Police Department had to turn over immigration information to the Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement Agency (ICE).
It was explained to the City Council by Assistant City Manager Trey Davis that the Greensboro Police Department didn’t collect immigration information on people it arrested, but five members of the City Council – Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson, Michelle Kennedy, Sharon Hightower and Tammi Thurm – voted to turn down the federal grant anyway.
Three members of the City Council voted to support the Police Department and accept the JAG – Councilmembers Justin Outling, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Nancy Hoffmann. Councilmember Goldie Wells was absent.
Vaughan said she was voting to turn down the money because, while the Greensboro Police Department didn’t collect immigration information, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department did. So as the result of that vote the Greensboro Police Department received no money and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department received an additional $75,900.
Vaughan said last week that public safety was a “top priority” for the City Council.
Since January 2020, the City Council has in fact changed its tactics and voted several times to accept JAG money. Why that particular JAG was found so offensive by the City Council when subsequent JAG money is acceptable has not been explained.