The final forum held on hiring a new Greensboro Police Chief was also the longest, loudest and largest.
The forum was at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Monday, Oct. 7 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It was originally scheduled to end at 7:30 but, at the request of City Councilmember Sharon Hightower, it was extended. Then at 8:30, Hightower had to tell the 70 or so people in attendance it really was time to go.
Although many comments were about the qualities the city should be looking for in a new police chief, there were also a lot of comments about the hiring process. Many said that the people needed to be included from now up until making the final decision.
The final decision on hiring will be made by City Manager David Parrish, and once a new chief is hired the chief will report to the city manager and can only be fired by the city manager. It’s the system of government in Greensboro,
City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said that she was involved in hiring the current police chief before she was elected to City Council and was invited to a forum with about 80 other community leaders to meet the two final candidates. Kennedy said, “We all felt really strongly about one of the candidates and the other candidate became our police chief.”
She said, “It was as if the community had been left out of the process.”
Kennedy added, “This decision rests on the shoulders of the city manager and there are 300,000 people in the city whose opinions frankly matter more.”
Hightower said that the process “has to be transparent all the way through.”
Even the consultants, Patricia Bazemore, a retired Cary police chief, and Rodney Monroe, a retired Charlotte police chief with Developmental Associates, didn’t escape criticism.
Rev. Cardes Brown pointed out that the same consulting company was involved in the process when current Police Chief Wayne Scott was hired. Bazemore noted that the consulting company doesn’t hire the new police chief, but screens the applicants and makes a recommendation.
Guilford County Board of Education member Byron Gladden said the City Council, not the city manager, should hire the police chief. He said, “Take the decision out of the city manager’s hands and you all vote as the City Council. The state legislature gave you that power years ago.”
Several people spoke in favor of an independent police review board with subpoena and disciplinary power, not something a police chief could legally implement.
Rev. Steve Allen, the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, said, “What we want is not a good old boy system and not an unfair system.”
One woman said that racial issues were the biggest ones facing the city and the new police chief needed training in race relations.
Another woman said that the police chief needed to make sure police officers had more training in handling people experiencing mental health issues, drug addiction and homelessness.
A number of people spoke about problems with the current police department.
A man said, “We’re looking for somebody willing to show love to our community and our city.”