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Getting behind Bellamy

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There were grimaces of conditioned skepticism in the YES! Weekly offices when Tim Bellamy was named chief of the Greensboro Police Department last week.

The problems within the department have been well documented over the last year or so and the need for new leadership had become an urgent matter. This was an issue that needed to be resolved quickly, though it took the city more than a year to resolve it.

That being said, we stand behind the decision.

We feel that, given the state of the department, it was essential that the position go to an insider, someone familiar with the workings of the department and some ideas as to how it devolved into the state it was in when David Wray was locked out of his office last year.

Bellamy, who has been on the force since 1983, just might know how to straighten this mess out.

Also, since he was named interim chief after Wray’s resignation, Bellamy has played it pretty straight with us, if maybe a bit close to the vest. He is also a bit lax about returning phone calls and, according to one staffer, has a penchant for answering questions in Zen koans. But at least he understands why we’re asking them.

Truth be told, we kind of like the guy. But that doesn’t mean he gets a pass from us. We will be watching this iteration of the GPD very closely and with a plentiful supply of both carrots and sticks.

Bellamy has said that his agenda will include a focus on gun crimes, domestic violence and youth initiatives – all pressing needs in a city that is experiencing the growing pains associated with coming of age. But we humbly offer some suggestions that may make Tim Bellamy not just the chief we want, but also the chief we need.

For starters, the escalated police presence in the downtown district seems to us a waste of resources and an effort at pandering to business interests that, while important to downtown revitalization, represent only a small fraction of the entire city. Within a couple miles of Hamburger Square there are very real crimes being committed on folks who do not have the same clout as Elm Street business owners.

We also believe that transparency is the order of the day, and a proper police chief should be eager to share the inner workings of the department with the people for whom he works instead of hiding behind vague policies and the fallacy of privileged information.

One more thing: If there is still a corrupt element in the Greensboro Police Department then these officers must be ferreted out expeditiously and have criminal charges – ones that will stick – filed against them.

At the press conference last week, Bellamy had this to say: “There are still loose ends to tie up, but we are now moving forward and building on the core values of this department and this City government: honesty, integrity, stewardship, and respect.”

Great. But these are just words. Our new police chief will be defined by his actions. We’ll be watching.

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