At the City Council strategy session, on Thursday Oct. 13, Interim Police Chief Teresa Biffle presented a troubling report about the Greensboro Police Department’s vacancies.
The City Council didn’t seem fazed by high vacancy rate that, according to Biffle, is going higher, and the councilmembers offered no real solutions.
Biffle said that the GPD had 691 sworn officials and currently had 108 vacant positions in addition to 14 in nonsworn posts.
Biffle claimed that things were only going to get worse. Twelve officers have graduated from the last academy field training class and fifteen are currently enrolled at the academy. She stated that the current academy class began with 18 and was expected to lose two more officers before graduation.
As former Police Chief Brian James explained to the City Council several times, the normal attrition rate for the GPD is about 60 officers a year, which means to remain even, each of the two academy classes held during the year needs to graduate 30 officers.
Biffle said that the GPD had a maximum of 27 officers this year. The math shows that if the GPD doesn’t get a large number of lateral entry, the GPD will lose an additional 33 officers by year end.
Biffle stated that a patrol unit had approximately 100 officers. Therefore, one way to view the current vacancy rate is that the GPD has down an entire patrol unit. In addition, she said that the 1990 federal grant program had made it easier for more police officers to retire in the future.
Biffle claimed that in order to make up the loss of patrol officers, she was forced to recruit detectives from other special services and take them on patrol.
Biffle stated that it is possible for some units to be completely destroyed. She said, “We truly need sworn resources to respond to 911 calls.”
Marikay Abuzuaiter, City Councilmember, suggested that the GPD seek some assistance from graduates of the Police Citizens Academy. This program is designed to introduce Greensboro residents to the Police Department’s workings.
Tammi Thurm (City Councilmember) noted that Greensboro offers a one-time bonus, while other cities have higher salaries for officers with college degrees. She said, “That’s a huge incentive for people not to come to Greensboro if they have a college degree and want to be in law enforcement.”