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Short Stack: Police raises are only one part of the solution

Short Stack: Police raises are only one part of the solution

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The thin blue line is getting thinner in Greensboro.

The city’s police department is struggling to attract new recruits, keep the officers it has and protect and serve a growing population.

So, as expected, the Greensboro City Council will raise starting salaries for police officers.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to authorize the raises, which will take effect when the new budget year begins July 1.

City officials recommend an increase starting pay from $38,987 to $40,212. Also, many current officers would see their salaries raised to $41,170.

As for increasing the ranks, the Greensboro police force has 40 openings for sworn officers. A recent city study cites a need to add 16 sworn officers.

The raises should make Greensboro more competitive in its efforts to recruit from a shrinking pool of applicants, a number of whom will not be suited for a demanding job that requires a high degree of both physical and mental ability.

Adding urgency is the city’s spiking homicide rate.

But this will take time. New recruits must complete 25 weeks of academy training.

And, as important as adding strong, qualified officers will be, even the most effective policing will treat only the symptoms of a larger problem.

City leaders have said they are aware of that challenge and will address the root causes of violent crime as well.

That includes poverty, education, housing, fractured families and gang activity.

As welcome and overdue as they will be, police raises are the easy part.

A shot in the arm

A hopeful new video PSA from the state legislature promotes getting a COVID vaccination from both sides of the aisle.

Gov. Roy Cooper joins two Republicans — Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and state House Speaker Tim Moore — and two Democratic leaders — Sen. Dan Blue and Rep. Robert Reives — in the 71-second spot.

Says Berger, the most powerful Republican in the state: “When I talk to people around North Carolina about why I got the vaccine, I tell them that it’s an easy way to help protect yourself and your family and friends, but it also allows us to get back to traveling, attending sporting events and other everyday activities we’ve missed over the past year. I urge those that are hesitant to get the vaccine, to talk to their doctor and find out more about its effectiveness.”

Such a spot may have been both unsurprising and unremarkable in a different day and age, but in this era of deep partisan division and vaccine skepticism, it is not.

We’ll take our bipartisan good deeds wherever we can get them, especially when it comes to the pandemic.

An ACC holiday?

Two Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill, Senate Bill 567, that would make the Fridays of the men’s and women’s ACC Basketball Tournament state holidays in North Carolina.

“You know, ACC basketball is a way of life in North Carolina,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Sarah Crawford, D-Wake, told WRAL. “It’s nearly as important, if not more important, than our traditions of barbecue and sweet tea.”

No argument here, where Greensboro has become the home of the women’s tournament and a frequent site for the men’s. And if ever there were a permanent site for both events, it should be here.

As for holiday status? Nah. At least not an official one.

On the other hand, Election Day as a holiday? Now you’re talking.

In the line of duty

No one has been counting the number of frontline health care workers who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Not the Trump administration. And not the Biden administration either.

So Kaiser Health News took on the project itself, combing obituary and GoFundMe pages and news reports and in some cases interviewing family members.

The grim toll: more than 3,600.

Two-thirds were people of color. A third were immigrants.

Most were not doctors. They were nurses, nursing assistants and patient care technicians.

And in many cases they died because they lacked adequate protective equipment during the supply-chain crisis. Others died early on because neither they, nor medical science at that point, were fully aware of how contagious the virus was — that a cough or a conversation or even a patient’s breathing in close quarters was enough to spread the disease.

In some cases these workers had to take to the streets to demand better safety measures, Kaiser Health News investigative reporter Christina Jewett told NPR on Thursday.

The average age of those who died was 59.

Kudos to Kaiser Health News for caring enough to put a hard number to their sacrifices.

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