The community meeting on hiring a new police chief held at the Benjamin Branch Library at 222 Benjamin Pkwy on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at noon was very different from the one held about 18 hours earlier at the Barber Park Event Center.
The Benjamin Branch group was made of 14 whites and one black, while the Barber Park group was made up of 14 blacks and one white. But both groups agreed that the new chief should “be a person who knows Christ.”
The Benjamin Branch forum had three people with law enforcement experience, which also gave it a different perspective, and one woman who evidently thought everyone else had come to listen to her.
Assistant City Manager Trey Davis and Director of Community Relations for the Greensboro Police Department Jenny Caviness ran both meetings. Davis does a great job of getting comments from all over the room, but even he had a bit of a problem with the one longwinded speaker.
A different idea that was brought up and batted around was whether the new police chief needed to have any experience doing police work. The suggestion was that it would be better to hire someone who had been the CEO of a company.
One man said he was a retired CEO, but he wouldn’t have any idea how to run a police department.
Davis stepped in and said that the state had standards, and the police chief had to be a sworn officer, which meant he had to have completed the required training and kept his certification.
One of the best comments about what was needed was that the new police chief needed to have “thick skin.” He said, “I don’t know of a job except maybe the president that has as much pressure as the chief of police.”
The group discussed whether it was better to have a chief from a smaller town or a deputy chief from a larger town.
One person with law enforcement experience, when asked whether someone should be promoted from inside the department or hired from outside, said, “Greensboro’s reputation as a place to work is horrible. The reputation is the command staff will not support the officers.”
The former officer added, “I’m a strong advocate for an outside influence at this time.”
But someone else said that the best person available should be hired and shouldn’t be denied the job because they currently work for the Greensboro Police Department.
Another former law enforcement officer said, “Currently there is almost a reluctance among officers to do their job. They don’t always feel like they have support not just from the command staff but from the City Council.”
The third former law enforcement officer said, “They’ve got to have the support of the City Council and they don’t have that now.”
One man said, “The police chief’s job is to have a vision for where we are going and be able to communicate that vision to the police force and the community.”