GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Two young women were killed by gun violence in Greensboro in the span of just four days, and it happened at a time when Greensboro police are short-staffed and overwhelmed with calls.
North Carolina A&T student Deja Rae Reaves, 18, of Chicago, was shot and killed on Tuesday night on the 1000 block of Sullivan Street, which is northeast of downtown Greensboro. Investigators say there is a second gunshot victim who is expected to be OK.
Three days earlier, Grimsley High School student Ariyonna Fountain, 17, was shot and killed on Saturday while sitting on her front porch on Ogden Street.
Greensboro Police Chief John Thompson says the department is down 115 sworn officers. Because of the staffing shortage, they have to cut back on the services his department offers the community, which is something the city can’t afford to do with the recurring violence plaguing the city.
Part of the problem, Thompson says, is that the Greensboro Police Department is losing officers to nearby cities like Burlington that are able to pay more.
The chief says he has a plan, but it may sound counterintuitive. He presented the idea to the Greensboro City Council on Tuesday.
“What I am going to ask is that the council reduce my authorized strength by 30 positions,” Thompson said. “I am not a math guy, but I am pretty good with numbers. That would roughly equate to about $2 million dollars.”
Those funds could then go toward essentially giving $3,000 raises to staff across the board.
Then, to free up officers to investigate violent crime, he is looking into converting five officer positions to civilian roles as part of the Greensboro Motorist Assistant Program.
Greensboro police respond to roughly 9,000 to 11,000 crashes a year, many of which require multiple officers to direct traffic. That takes them away from other high-priority calls, such as shootings.
“We are looking at multiple avenues, not to just say the only solution is more police, but are there better solutions, alternative responses that wouldn’t necessarily require police but reduce the workload and allow police to focus more on our priorities?” Thompson said.
Once legislation is passed, he can double the size of that unit, converting even more positions.