Monday night, the Winston-Salem Public Safety Committee voted in favor of pulling $1 million from the police department and moving it to programs that support an anti-poverty initiative.
There are currently 40 vacancies in the police department. The proposal would put a temporary freeze on 15 positions and save about $1 million that can go towards the Summer Youth Employment Program, emergency rent eviction assistance and other programs.
The thought process is, even with the next class of officers coming through, the police department wouldn’t be able to fill those 15 positions this fiscal year.
Two big concerns when considering the proposal: Will this resolution be a one-time proposal? Will reducing the number of open positions damage the department’s ability to protect the citizens of Winston-Salem?
“I am open to the compromise of the recommendation, however, I do think I’ve stated before that officers are being asked to do a lot. We want to be able to continue to meet the request and expectations and provide the greatest service of delivery that we can,” said Chief Catrina Thompson, with the Winston-Salem Police Department.
Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough says less officers on the street is not helping the community.
“I see how hard they work in this city. I know how hard we work in this city and to defund them $1 million, you’re just not going to fill those vacancies, and they’re running ragged. You don’t remember not too long ago we were doing saturation patrols with them to help out,” said Sheriff Kimbrough.
The sheriff wants people to focus less on dollars and cents and more on policies and procedures.
“We got the world’s attention. Now let’s make another right decision by demanding policies and procedures. Let’s demand some training. Let’s demand to be able to look at training records, demand to spot check police abuse. Them the game changers,” said Sheriff Kimbrough.
A large majority of council members at Monday’s city committee meeting were in agreement this would be a one-time freeze.
The resolution now moves onto the the full council on June 15.