The most recent in a series of Greensboro Police Chiefs has been appointed. It is John Thompson– a white guy who is originally from California.
It is interesting that the city would choose someone who is not black, and is not female. But in order for our leaders to agree upon this appointment, Thompson had to check certain boxes. First of all, he is not a SOUTHERN white guy. Second, he has to say all the right things.
Greensboro is defined by its racial identity politics. White police chiefs tend to get sacked or worked out of the system. The city’s politically active black community hates the police, and jumps on any opportunity to undermine them.
One of our local progressive/socialist news publications has done a puff piece on our new California police chief. The article reveals why he was chosen. The crux of the matter is that he doesn’t intend to do traditional policing.
Using his experience from all three departments, Thompson said his focus will be on finding creative solutions to policing that don’t always involve punitive measures.
“I think I have an opportunity to be innovative and change some of the ways that we’ve done things in our police department,” Thompson said.
He mentioned his work creating the Homeless Assistance Resource Team a few years ago and talked about bolstering the co-response model as well. He even stated that he’d like to see non law enforcement responses to certain mental-health calls.
“We’re not trained mental-health professionals,” Thompson said. “But we were the only option.”
When it comes to the issue of homelessness, something that Thompson has worked on for years, he said he wants the department to move away from enforcement as much as possible. When asked about the new ordinances passed by city council this year, Thompson said that those kinds of decisions are out of his control.
“A lot of people blur the lines between police and legislative bodies,” he said. “Our job is enforcement, but what I want to make sure is when we do enforce, that we are not creating additional harm, but we’re providing help. Enforcement only if necessary; that’s been a shift in our organization.”
Thompson’s goal to move away from strictly enforcement to a more holistic approach to policing is in line with the ways that departments across the country are rethinking their roles in a post-George Floyd era. Thompson said he’s keenly aware of it, too…
Part of the solution lies in a $2 million grant that the department recently received that will go towards bolstering historically disenfranchised neighborhoods by pumping in resources like job training and education. Thompson also said that improving areas of the city where violent crime occurs can help deter it. That involves fixing streetlights and improving parks, but also taking into account tree canopies in certain neighborhoods.
“These are all factors that are not just police or enforcement driven,” Thompson said. “It’s about what resources can we provide?”
Thompson might say all the right things. But as soon as incidents occur that are characterized as racial, the usual forces will be out for his scalp. He cannot change the fact that he is white, after all.