GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A violent crime spike in Greensboro has seen shootings happening in public places and in broad daylight.
So what are city leaders doing about it?
FOX8 sat down with Greensboro Police Chief Brian James and Mayor Nancy Vaughan. They both said that safety for everyone in their city is a top priority, but there’s only so much they can do.
They said the increase of crime is not just a policing issue but a community issue as well.
“A majority of [shootings] would happen during the nighttime hours in the dark. Now you see the brazenness of people, who would shoot another person in broad daylight?” James said.
It’s a boldness he’s never seen before.
“And it’s in crowded areas where they risk the possibility of hitting someone that’s unintended. That pattern particularly is disturbing,” he added.
That just makes their job harder. As gunshots are reported across the city, it’s overloading an understaffed police force.
“The more active cases we have at one time, our resources get stretched thinner, so it makes it more difficult to solve,” James said.
The department is making progress. Greensboro police officers have taken more than 1,200 guns off the streets, doubled the number of drug and narcotics charges in the past year and have seen a decline in homicides.
There’s been 20 homicides so far this year, compared to 29 this time last year. James said it’s not enough.
“We are looking at some ability to actually have more cameras in the city. And even in some cases, have citizens who own cameras, make it accessible to the police if they agree to that,” he said.
The Greensboro police chief is working to create and fund a real-time crime center and purchase a new license plate reader to help get criminals off the streets sooner.
Vaughan believes what happens in court plays a role too.
“[Police] bring people to the judges, to the DA’s,” she said. “We need to let them know what our expectations are, and that they’re going to follow it through and hold these people accountable.”
The mayor told FOX8 while security and additional officers can be added, nothing will change without the legal system backing them up.
“There are times when bail isn’t set to the maximum or bail should be denied in some cases,” she said. “I want to make sure people who are arrested are held accountable. Police…are spending their time bringing people to the courthouse, and they’re getting out within hours.”