‘I do think this is an emergency’: Greensboro police chief, city council address department staff concerns

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Greensboro Police Chief Brian James told City Council members on Monday night that his department needs more manpower.  

According to a department spokesperson, the police department has 45 vacancies.  

“It’s time for us to stop talking and start putting our money where our mouth is,” Councilman Hugh Holston said Monday night. 

James explained it can take nearly 11 months to get officers fully trained. In the meantime, he’s working to maximize officers’ impact on the street.  

“If you ever hear 10-100 on the radio, that means there is priority one call that someone needs to go to. Priority one could be a domestic, could be a robbery, could be a shooting, and every car in the city is tied up, and we don’t have anyone to send. So we’re trying to figure out ways to mitigate that until we can increase our staffing,” he said. 

When asked about the attrition rate in the department, James said he is losing five to six officers every month or sixty officers annually. He said bringing the department up to full staff could take two to three years. 

“I felt and heard the urgency in the chief’s presentation,” Councilwoman Goldie Wells said Tuesday. 

Wells pushed for sign-on bonuses for officers, specifically those who are already trained by other departments. Councilwoman Nancy Hoffman suggested looking outside the state to recruit. 

“People have their opinions about over-policing, but we realize they are necessary,” Wells said. 

Next month, James will present an updated plan to the council to increase staffing over the next 24 months. 

“Right now, because we don’t have the people, we have to look at time allocation. And how we can better spend our time,” he said. “Detectives who would normally follow up on cases, they’re occasionally getting in uniform and going out and answering calls. As the staffing shortage has occurred, our response time suffers.” 

He also proposed a possible ordinance change for how officers respond to calls from home alarm systems. 

“We’re spending thousands of hours per year responding to false alarms. That’s time that could be spent actually in areas experiencing disproportionate crime,” James said. 

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said she asked the city manager to bring a proposal for a take-home vehicle policy before the council in November.  

A spokesperson for the High Point Police Department said the office is approximately 30 officers short.  

A spokesperson for the Winston-Salem Police Department said the department does not provide patrol numbers for logistical and tactical reasons, but they are experiencing staff shortages like many other agencies nationwide. 

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