In 2021, the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) operated most of the year about 100 officers short of its full authorization of 691.
Greensboro Police Chief Brian James told the City Council in December 2021 that what the GPD needed to do was have Greensboro Police Academy Classes of about 40 for several years to get back up to full strength.
The GPD loses about 60 officers a year. Most of those officers retire, but officers also leave to join other agencies, resign to pursue other careers and some are fired. But according to James, the 60-a-year attrition rate has been fairly constant.
The GPD also has two Police Academy classes a year. That means that for the GPD to remain where it is, lacking about 100 officers, each class needs to have about 30 graduates who then finish their in-field training and become police officers.
Looking at the most recent Police Academy classes, the situation is getting worse, not better. The current class has 30 cadets, but not all of them will graduate, complete field training and become police officers.
The last Police Academy class graduated 17, the one before that 12 and before that 19. Anything less than 30 results in the total number of officers going down, not up. So during the last year and a half the police department through normal attrition lost about 90 officers and gained 48. Simply based on the average rate of attrition of 60 officers a year during the last year and half the GPD would be down about 42 officers.
These numbers ignore lateral entries, experienced police officers who transfer into the GPD, but there don’t appear to be enough of those currently to move the needle enough to make a big difference.
At the Nov. 1, 2021 meeting, the City Council passed a motion made by City Councilmember Hugh Holston to have James come back to the City Council in December and tell them what was needed to bring the GPD up to full force in 18 to 24 months.
James made a number of recommendations on Dec. 2, including offering a bonus of $2,208 to experienced officers that transferred into the GPD, and offering bonuses to new hires for military service and for being bilingual.
The City Council took no action, but Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter did note that the Raleigh offered transfers in the police department a $5,000 bonus.
What the City Council did do this year was raise police salaries to be on par with other police departments in the area. However, when bonuses other departments offer are considered, Greensboro is still lower than some other departments in the area and far lower than the highest paid police departments in the state.
So, if the GPD continues its current hiring pattern, in the next couple of years it is on track to be down by about 200 officers rather than only 100.