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Child abuse increasing in Greensboro, shooting crime down: Police Chief Brian James

"Domestic abuse overall, as well as child abuse, has been on the rise throughout the country, and we have not been immune to it," Chief James said.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — So far in 2021, Greensboro has seen a decline in firearm-related crime, but a rise in child abuse cases, compared to this time of the year in 2020.

Those are just two of the take-aways from a 40-minute update on violent crime data presented by Greensboro Police Department Chief Brian James in a city council virtual work session on July 29.

"A lot of cities our size and larger, crime is actually trending up. Right now in some of our assault and firearm-related categories, we are actually trending down compared to last year," said Chief James.

There have been 23 murders so far in 2021 as of July 29, compared to 32 homicides at this time last year.

In all, there were 62 total criminal homicides/murders in 2020. The homicide clearance rate was 63%, which is above the national average, James said.

One striking difference between 2020 and 2021 -- in the first 6 months of 2021, there have been 130 child abuse crimes reported, versus 64 child abuse crimes in all of 2020.

"Domestic abuse overall, as well as child abuse, has been on the rise throughout the country, and we have not been immune to it," Chief James said.

"Kids have been at home for the last year, constantly doing remote learning, whereas they would have been at school for the majority of the day. Unfortunately if something bad is going to happen, it's just increased that window of time," the Greensboro police chief said.

The chief shared maps of violent crime in Greensboro, which showed the murders in 2020 were concentrated in the northeast, southeast, south, and southwest parts of Greensboro. The 2021 trend is similar, except for a relative reduction in homicides in District 1. 

More than double the number of firearms have been seized by police so far in 2021, compared to the same time in 2020. Specifically, there were 484 firearms seizures during the first 6 months of 2020, and 1,023 seized in the first 6 months of 2021.

"People always ask me what can we do to help," Chief James said. "I believe that crime overall, and in particular violent crime, starts with these things: poverty, education, unemployment, housing, healthcare, mental healthcare, addictions, food insecurity, opportunities for young people. We as a community need to stay focused on these things."

GPD is currently in the process of hiring a full-time crime analyst to focus on NIBIN leads, which involves capturing and comparing photos of spent bullets and cartridges found at crime scenes to determine if they come from a weapon previously documented in the system at a different crime scene.

The department has added a full-time victims advocate for the homicide squad, who builds contacts with families to help solve crimes, the chief said.

Chief James shared Greensboro/Guilford County Crime Stoppers data:

  • 1,507 tips in 2020 that led to 774 charges, 211 cases cleared, and $770,202 in property recovered
  • 2021 year to date: 697 tips received, 274 charges, 47 cases cleared, and $149,123 in property recovered

The Chief also highlighted the department's summer 2021 initiative to get 500 jobs for teenagers, which he said was a success: 525 teens got jobs with over 140 employers.

Another mention by the chief was the "Take Me Home" program, where families can register loved ones with a special and unique need so that if law enforcement responds, they are aware and can avoid misunderstandings.

Moving forward, the chief said GPD is working to develop a "real time crime center," and have applied for a grant.

As far as staffing, GPD has 691 authorized sworn officers with 45 vacancies, the chief said. The department averages 5 people leaving the agency every month.

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