GREENSBORO, N.C. — City of Greensboro Police Chief, Brian James, announced his plans to retire at the end of May.
In 1996, Chief James joined the Greensboro Police department and was promoted to Chief in January 2020.
The announcement surprised Mayor Nancy Vaughan.
"Personally, I have enjoyed working with Chief James," Vaughan said. " He's certainly had a heart for the city. He grew up here."
James has served numerous leadership roles within the police department including, the Police Neighborhood Resource Center, Criminal Investigations Division, Training Division, Resource Management Division, and Bureau Commander of the Patrol Division.
Vaughan acknowledges his leadership came during a fraught moment for law enforcement nationwide.
He was sworn in as chief weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began. It impacted plans for eight community forums he wanted to have in his first year. He still managed to hold six.
Then came unrest in Downtown Greensboro during the protests after George Floyd's death that summer.
"I think that being police chief for any city is probably the hardest job anyone could have and I think that Chief James did it admirably but I can see how it could take a toll on a person," Vaughan said.
His first year saw a record number of homicides and violent crime remained high in 2021.
James tried to combat many of those issues by creating a strategic plan for the department. Some of his ideas, like using license plate reading cameras and adding behavioral health specialists to the force, are already in place.
Vaughan said those initiatives are making a difference and she hopes a new take-home car program will help fill vacant officer positions.
“Our community has benefited from the steadfast leadership of Chief Brian James and his departure will be an enormous loss to our City,” said Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan. “He led the department through challenges, such as the 2020 summer protests, a relentless pandemic, and a record number of vacancies in law enforcement. On behalf of the City Council, we thank Chief James for his dedication and years of exemplary service.”
Chief James has also led numerous non-profit initiatives, such as the chair of United Way’s African American Leadership cabinet board chair of Malachi House, Greensboro Rotary, and vice-chair of Guilford Child Development.
“Prior to, and since my arrival as City Manager earlier this year, Chief James has been a phenomenal team member,” said Greensboro City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba. “In our regular communication, he demonstrates a unique passion for his job and genuine support for our police officers. His ideas and stellar leadership will be missed. Chief James developed an exceptional team of deputies who are able to continue the vision he charted for the department.”
The city will use a recruiting firm to find the next police chief. Vaughan said they're hoping to find someone who isn't too different from James. The plan is to have someone ready soon after he leaves on May 31.
Teresa Biffle will serve as the interim Police Chief while the search begins. Biffle has served with GPD for 27 years. She has served as the Deputy Cheif of Management Bureau since 2021 when James promoted her.
The city hired a recruiting firm to begin the search for a new chief.
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