GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Since the start of the year, viewers across the Triad have called and emailed the FOX8 newsroom worried about how long it takes police officers to respond to their calls.
FOX8 is diving into the Greensboro Police Department’s workload and the challenges officers face.
Greensboro’s police chief and city leaders are worried about burnout and key gaps in service.
“If they’re available, they’re going to go, but if they’re not available, what are they going to do?” said Marikay Abuzuaiter, a Greensboro City Council member.
Abuzuaiter says her constituents are seeing the impacts of officer shortages.
“What we’re going to see is more and more of this when the lower priority calls aren’t even going to have an officer, and now they call you to do a telephone report because there isn’t an officer,” Abuzuaiter said.
Those concerns are especially important when it comes to recent street racing and burnout concerns in Greensboro.
“People are in those parking lots calling 911, and there’s not an officer to stop it, and somebody is going to get killed,” Abuzuaiter said.
FOX8 asked Greensboro Police Chief John Thompson in a recent interview how response times are impacted by the more than 100 officer shortage.
“We have seen some of those response times increase, and we haven’t had the resources to respond as quickly as we want to those lower-level crimes and quality of life issues,” Thompson said.
FOX8 requested the dispatch logs between January and the end of May.
We found more than 1,000 people called each month for crashes and other traffic concerns. March was the highest month with 833 accidents with property damage calls.
A more surprising issue is how many times officers responded to reports of disorderly subjects and crowds. In April, officers took 1,109 calls.
“Even if there is a priority one, which is the most dangerous where something is happening, I know every single officer would try to get there,” Abuzuaiter said.
The other thing taking up time and energy is burglary alarm investigations, which averaged about 805 calls per month.
Thompson says the department can’t afford to lose any more officers or wait to see how other cities do when it comes to police department salaries.
“It’s … High Point. It’s … Winston, and Winston has 150 vacancies. If they do something bold and raise their salaries to $57,000 a year, I don’t know how many folks that could lose,” Thompson said.
City leaders tell FOX8 they’re eager to start budget workshops and identify ways they can raise the starting salary for officers in Greensboro to the $ 55,000-a-year goal.