At the work session on Monday, Dec. 7, the Greensboro City Council appeared to ignore one often-repeated request to help recruit and retain police officers.
In the discussion on the surge in violent crime in Greensboro that has been going on for several years, but has increased even more this year with 57 murders, Greensboro Police Chief Brian James brought up the fact that even counting the police officers in training, the department is down 25 from the 674 sworn officers that are authorized.
If you don’t count the officers in the police academy and the ones in field training, Greensboro has 612 fully trained sworn officers.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked if there was any specific reason the Greensboro Police Department was having problems recruiting all the officers it needed.
James mentioned several broad issues, but then talked about an issue that has come before the City Council for years and the council has refused to do anything about it.
According to James, when compared to other departments, “There are few in this area that don’t offer a full-time take home vehicle.”
He added, “High Point, Winston-Salem, Burlington and Guilford County have take home cars.”
In Greensboro patrol officers share cars. It may not sound like much to some folks, and evidently doesn’t to the city councilmembers, but police officers and former police officers say that it can be a deal breaker. Some even argue that cars last longer when they are assigned to particular officers because they take better care of them.
This is simply a money issue. The City Council would have to allocate the money that would be required to purchase the additional cars to provide each patrol officer with their own car. Despite the fact that the council has been told repeatedly by different chiefs that it would make a major difference in recruitment and retention of officers, the money has not been forthcoming.
The argument is also made that having police cars parked in neighborhoods deters crime.
On Monday, City Council appeared to be more interested in spending money on a “shots fired” system than in providing take home cars for police officers.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I would agree that the need for more officers has been stated and I think we are all in agreement that we want more.”
But no one on the City Council talked about take home cars which according to James hurts their recruitment efforts.