After a tumultuous 2020 of many senseless killings of Black people by armed officers, and the several demands to defund the police, many cities across the nation have begun to reevaluate and rethink policing.
What does rethinking policing look like? What does a world look like where a 9-1-1 call about a mental health crisis is met with a mental health professional rather than an armed officer?
Greensboro as well as many other cities in North Carolina have been grappling with these questions and trying something new when it comes to community safety.
In December 2020, Greensboro’s Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT) was formed. BHRT works in partnership with Greensboro Police officers. This small but mighty team of 7 crisis counselors respond to emergency calls when mental health expertise is needed. BHRT works to decrease 9-1-1 calls by linking clients to local resources and support.
Originally, BHRT was housed in the Office of Equity and Inclusion but in 2022 the team was moved to the newly created Office of Community Safety. This office is managed by Latisha McNeil and holds a variety of teams that work directly in community-facing safety work. Other than BHRT, the office oversees the Greensboro Criminal Justice Advisory Commission (GCJAC), Violence Prevention, and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).
In the month of September, Greensboro’s Office of Community of Safety reflected on its first year of action. The alarming statistic of 54 homicides to date has been a frustrating reminder that there’s a lot of work to be done. Arthur Durham, the Violence Prevention Coordinator, has some ideas to reduce violence in Greensboro.
Right now, Durham is seeking help from nonprofit community organizations to be a part of the Community Violence Intervention and Interruption Project. Through this project, Durham will be teaching organizations how to de-escalate conflict and the Office of Community Safety is requesting proposals for organizations who want to get involved with these efforts.
If you are interested and would like more information, make sure to attend the community meeting on Thursday, October 5th at 6pm to 8pm at the Peeler Recreation Center.
If you want to know more about this project and anything else the Office of Community Safety is doing, feel free to reach out to Latisha McNeil at (336) 373-2295.
Let’s work together with the City of Greensboro to reduce violence and make our city safer.