At the October meeting of the Greensboro City Council, where the council unanimously agreed to spend $500,000 to hire City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson’s nonprofit to run a Cure Violence program, the question was asked: How does the Greensboro Police Department compare with other police departments in terms of personnel and equipment?
As it turns out, the city doesn’t need to hire an expensive consulting firm to find the answer because the North Carolina School of Government issued a report in April that does a good job of covering the topic.
The “Final Report on City Services for Fiscal Year 2017-2018” compares the cities of Apex, Asheville, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Concord, Goldsboro, Greensboro, Greenville, Hickory, High Point, Mooresville, Raleigh, Wilson and Winston-Salem. That’s a good range of cities. It doesn’t include Durham, which is the closest in size to Greensboro, but Winston-Salem is not far off.
In the comparison of police departments, the number of patrol cars is so out of line with other departments it jumps off the page. According to the report, which was done for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Greensboro with a population of 288,000 had 223 patrol vehicles. Winston-Salem with a population of 243,000 had 473 patrol vehicles – more than double the number in Greensboro. Asheville with a population of 92,000 has 235 patrol vehicles. High Point with a population of 111,000 had 252 patrol vehicles.
It’s hard to imagine High Point right next door, which is roughly one-third the size of Greensboro, having more police cars than Greensboro. But even Greenville with a population of 89,000 had 227 cars, or four more than Greensboro.
It makes you think that Greensboro police officers must have to call Uber to get to crime scene.
The lack of police cars also raises the question about other services where Greensboro stacks up pretty well. In the category of “Police Services Costs per Capita,” Greensboro’s cost is $278, while the average is $285. So other cities are paying for the purchase and operation of fleets of vehicles two and three times the size of the Greensboro fleet based on population at virtually no additional cost.
In the category “Sworn Police Officers per 10,000 Population,” Greensboro is almost exactly average. Greensboro has 27.3 officers per 10,000 and the average is 27.5.
Greensboro, however, does not have as many calls as other cities. In “Calls Dispatched per 1,000 Population,” Greensboro has 776 and the average is 1,257.
And the response times, as one might expect from a city with a dearth of police cars, is higher than the average. The average response time to high priority calls is 5.4 minutes, and in Greensboro it’s 7.2 minutes.
Coming up next – a comparison for loose leaf collection.