Greenville Police Ask for More Officers
Greenville Police sent a clear message to city council at Monday afternoon's worksession: we need more officers.
The request was one of several measures across the city's departments to help increase security in the central business district, in the city's award-winning parks, and on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Those areas have seen increases in the number of violent incidents in the past few months.
"We have enjoyed a low crime rate in this city," said Mayor Knox White. But the expansion and success of downtown restaurants and bars has left the police department needing extra staff.
In 1999, Greenville Police had 187 officers. They now have 191, with a single vacancy, and have not gotten an additional full-time officer since 2009.
The city manager, John Castile, and head of the parks department, Dana Souza, also recommended standardizing the hours of parks across the city to close at 9 p.m. They and police believe this change will help them devote officers to the places they need most.
In addition, police requested 10 additional security guards employed by ASG, the city's partner. These guards will serve as additional sets of eyes, and will patrol the Falls Park area as well as various parking garages downtown.
The city expects to move quickly if and when it gets council approval. Castile believes the park hours changes can be put in place with the rollout of new signs in high-traffic areas and a public information campaign to educate the city's businesses and residents. He expects the changes can go into effect within one week of getting approval from council.
The cost of all of these changes will be about $1.1 million this year, with an ongoing annual increase of $500-600,000. The costs will come out of the general fund and police seizures, allowing the city to put the new measures in place without increasing city taxes.
By Evan Donovan
Follow Evan on Twitter @EvanDonovanNews