Councilwoman to Richmond Mayor: ‘What’s wrong with you?’

Posted at 1:44 PM, May 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-08 14:14:00-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is responding to questions surrounding the cost of his security detail. This week some Richmond City Council members suggested cutting $100,000 from the mayor's $400,000 security detail as a way to cut costs.

On Wednesday, CBS 6 asked the mayor if there were plans to do away with or to cut back his police protection.

"The chief of police or the police who are in charge of public safety for the city say it is necessary, and so we are going to follow their advice," Mayor Jones replied.

When asked the same question, Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic said it was his decision to provide the executive detail.

"I feel it's an important endeavor and I'm going to continue to do it," Chief Tarasovic said.

The city leaders answered those questions while they talked about doing more with less when it came to pay raises for the nearly 1,100 police and firefighters in Richmond. The mayor said at a press conference Wednesday morning the city is facing a $31 million budget gap.

Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell is the person leading the charge to have the mayor's security detail cut. She said the $400,000 is spent on three full time police officers and two designated city vehicles for Mayor Jones.

Trammell said if the mayor needed so much protection, there may be a bigger issue at hand.

"If you are too scared of our city, what is wrong with you? Go look for another job, step down.  I know the taxpayer doesn't know about this, I know they don't," Trammell said.

"That is a lot of money and to have three officers everywhere you go, you have to take them with you like to Denver?  Who in the world even knew he was a mayor, unless he bragged on himself that he was the mayor of Richmond, Virginia?"

A representative from the mayor's office defended the mayor security details in an email that read, in part:

The City’s form of government is the only form of government of its kind in the state, in that it has an elected full-time Mayor.

CBS 6 researched mayoral detail and protection in the state of Virginia. Many localities simply don’t have it at all.

The city of Portsmouth, which is a bit smaller than Richmond, offers no detail for the mayor and no city vehicle.

One city spending in the same ballpark on a mayoral protection as Richmond was Baltimore, Maryland. Reports from last year show their bill was $430,000 but that was for seven officers, and Baltimore is three times larger in population than Richmond.

Monday night's council vote on the budget won't be the last, as revisions are expected.