Greensboro’s new police chief, Brian James, will be sworn into office on Friday, Jan.31, and some former police officers are hoping one of the changes he will make will be to reinstate a program more than 60 years old that ended on Dec. 31, 2019.
The program, last known as “sworn volunteers,” has also been known as “reserve police officers” and “auxiliary police officers.” It is made up of retired and former police officers who are certified law enforcement officers and volunteer their time to assist the Police Department.
It’s an interesting deal because, although the sworn volunteers do not receive monetary payment, they do receive a benefit in that they can maintain their law enforcement certification. There is some cost to the city because the sworn volunteers do have to be provided with equipment. So although there are no payroll expenses, like everything else in life, the program isn’t free.
Eddy Summers, a retired Greensboro police officer and up until Dec. 31 a sworn volunteer, asked the Greensboro City Council at its first meeting in January to overrule Chief Wayne Scott, who is retiring on Jan. 31, and keep the program in place. He said it made sense to let the new police chief make the decision on whether having former police officers volunteer their time to help the department was a worthwhile program or not.
Summers noted in his presentation that the sworn volunteers had over 500 years of law enforcement experience and that Greensboro had spent thousands of dollars to train them.
Summers also said the timing was suspect, since Scott ended the program one month before his announced retirement. He also said that Scott didn’t give the sworn volunteers any reason why he was ending the program.
Requests to the city for more information on why the volunteer program was being discontinued were not answered.
There seems to be substantial agreement on the City Council that the Police Department is spread too thin, which makes eliminating a program where experienced, trained, certified police officers volunteer their time to assist the Police Department hard to understand without some additional information.