During its June 6 meeting, Greensboro City Council approved a $1 million expenditure that will allow the purchase of 24 replacement police cars for the Greensboro Police Department.

The Equipment Services Division provides all city departments with a fleet of equipment and keeps a small back-up supply of police vehicles at city facilities. There is currently only one police vehicle available for replacement needs, according to city documents.

“We literally have one car in inventory right now…. One fender-bender and we’re out of police cars,” Assistant City Manager Larry Davis told councilmembers, adding that the 24 new cars will all go into service, replacing vehicles that have gone beyond their typical lifespans and need to come out of service. Council voted 8-1 in favor of the measure, with District 1 representative Sharon Hightower as the sole dissenting member.

“[O]ur order for replacement vehicles this year did not get filled,” Davis said, citing manufacturing production challenges. The city had been pursuing hybrid vehicles from Ford. However, according to Davis, Ford was unable to get the necessary parts to build them, so all hybrid vehicle orders went unfilled. Gas-powered vehicles will be purchased locally instead.

Funding for police has increased over the last three years

While Hightower was the sole dissenting vote on June 6, District 2 councilmember Goldie Wells echoed Hightower’s concerns around more funding for police.

“It does make you wonder, why is it we focus just one way when there are other things that our citizens need that we need to be pushing for,” Wells said.

“It’s an unbalanced effort,” Hightower concurred.

“I know we have to do these things, but I think we should be more balanced,” Wells said.

“It’s wrong, it’s absolutely wrong that we have focused on one area,” Hightower added.

“Putting all the money on one side and be damned everybody else. It’s wrong. Transit is suffering. Field ops is suffering.”

“I understand public safety is important — it is — but you have put them on a pedestal,” Hightower argued.

At-large councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter, who is a vocal supporter of the police and was once found to be a police informant, voiced her approval of the move.

“If there is only one police vehicle available — which is the case — and two police cars have flat tires….Forget it,” she said.

Despite calls for defunding the police in 2020, the city of Greensboro has gradually increased its funding of the police department in the last few years. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the police department had a budget of $78,583,248 — and the year after that it went up to $83,721,688. During the 2022-23 fiscal year, the budget was $91,174,117. The upcoming recommended budget for the police department is $96,023,712, which would amount to nearly 13 percent of the city’s total recommended budget of $749.5 million.

The 2023-24 budget is still in the works and is expected to be voted on by council on June 20. The budget will go into effect on July 1.

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