Richmond Councilor questions Mayor’s security detail during meeting about police pay and staffing issues
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A public feud between Richmond Police officers and their chief is coming to a head, and now some on the city council are jumping in. The head of the city’s public safety committee wants a report on the mayor’s security detail.
“You know the mayor, the mayor has security 24/7,” said Reva Trammell, Richmond City Council.
A talk about Richmond Police pay and staffing issues quickly turned into something else Tuesday afternoon.
“He has police 24/7 that the citizens are saying why is that happening when we don’t have enough police officers, and it is not my call. And I don’t even know if it’s the police chief’s call,” Trammell said.
During a public safety committee meeting, Police Chief Gerald Smith did not answer questions about the detail. Richmond Police Department confirms it does provide security for the mayor and has since last summer. Meanwhile, Chief Smith took his time to address morale and pay concerns.
“We are doing the best we can internally and doing what we can to help. We’ve got to keep our officers, making sure that their wellness is in play at well,” said Chief Gerald Smith, Richmond Police Dept.
Two billboards, including one in front of headquarters, remind the chief about the issues facing his department. The Richmond Coalition of Police put them up saying the city’s safety is at risk. Starting pay for police in Richmond is about $9,000 less than neighboring departments. The department is also contending with more than 60 vacancies.
“Doing nothing is a minus. It’s a negative because it’s just going to increase the gap. That’s on top of everything that was going on with the conflict and protest and stress of all of that,” said Bill Pantele, Richmond Coalition of Police.
Officers will get a small pay increase starting in October, approved by the city council. The group also has a study underway right now to review police salaries. The chief will go before that committee again next month for an update on the salary situation and improving relations.
“We’re doing all we can to support the officers. I just know that being in Gilpin community there has to be some other way that we re-approach this to rebuild the trust,” said Ann-Frances Lambert, Richmond City Council.
No official comment from the mayor’s office concerning his security detail other than to say the detail was necessary after armed protesters showed up in the lobby of the mayor’s apartment building last summer.
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