In the numbers presented by Greensboro Police Chief Brian James at the City Council work session on Monday, Dec. 7 is an ongoing issue with fully staffing the Greensboro Police Department (GPD).

The violent crime and homicide rate is soaring and, according to the figures on recruitment from James, the number of police officers is dropping.

James said that currently the GPD had 17 candidates in the Police Academy and 17 officers who had completed the academy and are in field training.

As far as fully trained sworn officers, James said the GPD had 612 of the authorized and budgeted 674.

James said that the GPD and other law enforcement agencies were having more difficulty recruiting new officers.

James said they used to have 600 or 700 applicants for a Police Academy class, but that number has dropped to 300 or 400. He said that pool wasn’t large enough to fill a class with the 30 qualified police officer candidates they needed.

The GPD loses about 50 to 60 officers a year mostly through retirement, but also resignations, transfers, injuries, illness and death.

But that means to stay even the police have to hire about 50 or 60 new officers a year. Some will transfer into the GPD, but most go through the GPD training process, which in total takes about 11 months. So between hiring a recruit and getting that new officer out on patrol, it takes almost a year.

Greensboro also has a unique problem. The Greensboro Police Academy has a sterling reputation, which means other departments like to hire police officers Greensboro has trained.

The result is that with only 17 officers in the academy and 17 in field training, the number of fully trained officers on the street is almost certainly going to drop before it starts going back up, since it takes 50 or 60 new hires a year just for the Police Department to stay even.

City councilmembers said that they wanted to offer the Police Department immediate assistance.

However, City Council action like turning down a $250,000 federal grant in January, a Justice Department grant that the city had been accepting without comment for years, doesn’t send the message that this City Council supports the Police Department.