Greenfield PD 101

The Mayor and Greenfield Police Department issued fear-mongering public statements as they continue to avoid dealing with the egregious misconduct brought to light in the Buchanan & Dodge vs. City of Greenfield lawsuit. This is a great time to share what we know about the Greenfield Police Department–how they spend their time, how they spend our money, and what kind of shenanigans they would rather forget we know about.

How GPD spends their time

Last year we analyzed GPD’s press logs to get a better idea of how they spend their time and what our community’s needs are. Here’s what we found:

As Acting Chief Gordon mentioned in the Recorder, GPD handles around 32,000 calls per year. However, over 90% of these calls have nothing to do with crime–not even allegations of crime. Less than 1% of police calls involve reports of assault or violence, and only about 6% of calls involve supposed property crimes—including many mundane items like “caller’s wife took his debit card,” “two large pumpkins stolen off porch,” and “BLM sign stolen.” Two thirds of police calls fall into categories including assistance for residents (28.8%; for example, “person flagged down officer to ask relationship advice”), traffic matters (20.4%), hazards (5.3%; “tree down”), and alarms randomly going off (7.6%). Complaints (17%) and disputes (9%) include many calls like people dancing in Energy Park after hours, “intoxicated person advised to go to bed,” and 102 calls (over one year) from the same address about a mental health issue.

Many, many calls are asking for help with relationship issues and addiction and substance use issues. These calls are not appropriate for the police. The city can and should do better with helping people know who they can call for appropriate help.

Many of the highest paid city employees are police, and many of them make well over $100k base salary, even without bonuses and stipends. Police are way too expensive to assign them to non-emergencies.

Greenfield has very little crime. Nationwide, crime of all kinds, but especially violent crime, is down from its peak in the 1990s. But crime in Greenfield has declined more than the national average. Arrests are down 80% from a peak in the year 2000. The peak was 1,426 arrests in 2000, while GPD only made 265 arrests in 2020. Of those arrests, the large majority are minor offenses:

Here’s how these arrests break down in 2020:

  • 185 arrests, or 70% were for low-level offenses.
  • 10 arrests were for property crimes.
  • 24 arrests were for drug violations (“crimes against society”).
  • Only 46 arrests were for crimes against person, 3/4 of which were for simple assault.
  • 11 out of 265 arrests were for “violent crime” (aggravated assault and sexual assault). That’s 4% of arrests.

A full 70% of arrests are for low-level offenses. These are exactly the kind of offenses that are used by police to justify street-level harassment of houseless people and people of color.

According to the fear-mongering press release and Facebook post by GPD, the police will have to focus on their “core mission,” presumably meaning responding to violence. Maybe if they actually do that, houseless people won’t be harassed by the cops as much.

And maybe, just maybe, traffic stops for “Driving While Black” will finally go down.