On Monday, Aug. 8, the 112th Greensboro Police Academy class graduated and the recruits joined the ranks of the Greensboro Police Department (GPD).
And despite the fact that the newly sworn police officers had completed more than 900 hours of training and instruction, this is bad news for Greensboro.
Only 13 recruits graduated from Greensboro Police Academy, which means the currently depleted ranks of the GPD will soon have even more vacancies.
The GPD currently has over 100 vacancies. The way the GPD counts officers is somewhat hard to follow but according to GPD figures the number of vacancies in sworn officers has grown by 14 since February.
Every year through normal attrition – mainly retirement but also resignations, firings and injuries and transfers – the GPD loses an average of 60 officers. So simply to maintain the status quo each of the two Police Academy classes during the year needs to graduate 30 officers. In reality each class needs to graduate more than 30 because not all the graduates will make it through the training process.
Graduating only 13 in this class means that at the end of the year the GPD will be down another 17 officers through normal attrition. If a number of officers decide to leave to work in another jurisdiction for higher pay or better benefits, such as take-home police cars, then the attrition rate will be higher and the GPD will be down more than 17 officers.
Former Police Chief Brian James in speaking to the City Council about the dwindling number of sworn officers said that what the GPD needed to fill its ranks was to graduate about 40 recruits from each Greensboro Police Academy class for a few years.
So if the goal was 40 then this class was 27 officers short of meeting that goal.
James at that time said that the GPD had learned to operate more efficiently and was filling in for the vacant positions by using overtime. But he also said that could not be done indefinitely because officers can only work so many hours.
The 2022-2023 City of Greensboro budget passed by the City Council in June raised police salaries only enough to keep the GPD from falling further behind other jurisdictions. But despite the massive tax increase the budget did not raise police salaries enough to reverse the trend of the ever shrinking GPD, nor did it provide take home police cars something all of Greensboro’s peer cities provide.