For months and months, Guilford County commissioners have been talking about the wisdom of implementing Cure Violence – a proposed program meant to reduce violence in high-crime, inner-city areas – and this week Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston said he expects to see much more clarity on the county’s intentions within the next two weeks.
The proposal currently on the table calls for the City of Greensboro and Guilford County to contribute about $300,000 each to establish the program under the Greensboro non-profit One Step Further Inc. Alston said it’s a no-brainer that the county should move forward on Cure Violence. He said it’s an effective program that’s badly needed to reduce shootings and violent crime in the county.
Alston, a Democrat, added that he hopes the Republican majority on the Board of Commissioners will support the plan, but he said he’s been shocked that they haven’t been more enthusiastic about the program so far.
According to Alston, the details of the proposal are being finalized and it will soon be time to decide the matter.
“They’re trying to get a contract worked out with the city and the county and One Step Further,” Alston said, “They’re working out the details.”
Alston said a recent vote by the five white Republican commissioners on another matter has caused him concern about their willingness to fund a Cure Violence program in Guilford County: Recently, the five white Republican county commissioners voted to award a $12-million construction contract to a company that had no black-owned business participation in its proposal. Alston said the decision to approve that contract was ludicrous and he added that it made him question whether those Republican commissioners cared about black people.
“Why would the Republican’s not be supporting Cure Violence – other than they don’t care about black people?” Alston said.
He said citizens wanted the program, the City of Greensboro appears to be on board, and Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers and other law enforcement officials have signed off on it.
“If the situation were reversed, I wouldn’t have to think twice,” Alston said. “Most of the people getting killed are black; but if the white, male Republicans came to me and said a lot of white people in their districts were getting killed, there’s no question I would support it for them – I wouldn’t even hesitate.”
Alston said Guilford County’s portion of the money would come from the Inmate Welfare Fund. That money originates largely from charges on collect phone calls made from the jail by inmates.
“It’s not even our fund – it’s the Inmate Welfare Fund,” Alston said. “It’s not taxpayer money.”
Alston said the board still had to make sure that Inmate Welfare Fund money was spent well, but he asked: What better purpose could it serve than saving lives?
Commissioner Carolyn Coleman – who this week called the vote on the large construction contract by the white Republican commissioners “a shame and a disgrace” – also said it’s time for Guilford County to move forward on the Cure Violence program that she said is badly needed.
The Guilford County commissioners who have expressed reservations about implementing Cure Violence say their concerns have nothing to do with race, but instead have everything to do with whether or not the program is effective, whether that money could be better spent combating violence in other ways, and their concerns about liability issues for the county and potential dangers to Cure Violence staff.