Greensboro City Councilmember Justin Outling finally pushed the City Council into taking some action to provide additional assistance to the Greensboro Police Department at the Tuesday, April 6 City Council meeting.
Outling had to wait a couple hours for a vote on his motion, but when the vote was finally taken his motion to approve the recommendation of City Manager David Parrish to provide police officers with raises in September and December and to hire 16 additional police officers, with eight in 2022 and eight in 2023, passed unanimously.
Outling originally made the motion following the proposal by Parrish at the City Council work session held at 3:30 p.m. before the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m.
At the work session, Outling said that additional compensation would help the Police Department both in attracting new officers and retaining the current officers and that Police Chief Brian James had said that additional positions would be helpful even if they could not immediately be filled.
Outling said, “It would be helpful if this were approved by the council. I think it has to be approved by the council for it to actually constitute action that would help the chief reduce violence in our community. With that I’d like to make a motion that the city manager actually operationalize and proceed with the proposal on the timeline he has outlined.”
The motion was immediately seconded by Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann.
Outling said that by passing the motion the Police Department could start recruiting officers with the knowledge that there would in fact be a salary increase in September. He said, “Short of council taking action tonight we have a terrific recommendation from the manager but don’t actually have action by the council.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “Normally in work sessions we do consensus. We don’t take votes in work sessions.”
Vaughan added, “We have all made it pretty clear that public safety is a top priority.”
Vaughan then invited Outling to make his motion at the regular meeting later in the evening.
Outling said, “We can do that now.”
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said, “My understanding is that we are in a work session, which is not a voting session.”
Kennedy then asked City Clerk Angie Lord for a legal ruling on whether or not the council could vote.
Outling said, “I defer to the city attorney on legal questions.”
Lord also deferred to the city attorney.
City Attorney Chuck Watts said, “As a matter of pure law, yes, you can vote anytime you want to.” But he added that it was the prerogative of the mayor to recognize the motion.
Outling said he would remake his motion at the City Council meeting.
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I’d like to make sure the city manager would be comfortable with that.”
Parrish, recognizing that he works for the City Council and not the other way around, said he would be fine with whatever the City Council decided to do.