The drive-by shooting at Cornwallis Drive and Elmwood Drive on Saturday night, Feb. 13, may turn out to be a fortunate event for the Greensboro Police Department.
At the Tuesday, Feb. 16 City Council meeting, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said the shooting in which one man was injured, “Brings to everyone’s consciousness the importance of policing and the importance of quick response.”
It evidently brought crime issues to Vaughan’s consciousness because she noted that the Greensboro Police Department has vacancies, something Police Chief Brian James pointed out at the City Council work session on violent crime in December. In fact, James noted that at that time the Police Department had 612 sworn trained officers when they were budgeted for 674.
Vaughan noted that most police departments in the area have take home cars, another point that was made in December, and that salaries were higher in other cities. She said that the Greensboro starting salary is $38,900 while Raleigh pays $41,000, Winston-Salem pays $43,400 and Charlotte pays $45,000.
She said, “We are going to have to make some significant changes when it comes to salaries.”
She said, “We support our Police Department and we have funded our Police Department.”
District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who is running against Vaughan for mayor, didn’t let the opportunity pass to put Vaughan’s revelation about violent crime in perspective. Outling noted that in 2019 Greensboro set a new record for homicides, then set a new record with 61 in 2020, and that the city was currently on track to break that record.
He said, “We need to meet regularly at least monthly on crime and public safety as well as economic development and jobs.”
Outling noted that at the council’s first work session on violent crime in March last year he asked about the police staffing study the chief had requested. He said at the second work session of the year on violent crime in December 2020 he again asked about the study and discovered that it had not been started.
Outling noted that while the City Council says that it supports the police, the majority of the City Council in 2020 voted to turn down a federal grant that would have provided needed funding for the Police Department.
Vaughan voted to turn down the federal grant and Outling voted to accept it.
Outling said, “What happened in Irving Park is only a reiteration of what has been happening in our city for the past two years.”