RRHA to disband police force in Richmond neighborhoods

Posted at 2:50 PM, Mar 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-01 00:40:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) is getting rid of its police force.

"We have advised local government officials of this strategic change in the deployment of our services and have taken measures to assure our residents will continue to enjoy the benefits of dedicated security service and protection," RRHA spokeswoman Osita Iroegbu wrote in an email. The department said it determined the RRHA was better off "providing housing services rather than providing ancillary security services."

The RRHA manages properties, including government-assisted housing, in some of Richmond's most crime-ridden neighborhoods. Neighborhoods like Creighton Court. Gilpin Court, Hillside Court and Whicomb Court fall under RRHA jurisdiction.

RRHA also manage property in Church Hill, Highland Park, Jackson Ward and Carver. [Click here for a map of RRHA properties]

RRHA Police worked with the Richmond Police Department to reduce and prevent crime in RRHA neighborhoods, according to the agency's website.

McKinley Morgan III told CBS6 the department's closure is a big loss.

Morgan lives in Gilpin Court and said the sound of children playing turns to a much more haunting noise far too often there.

“I seen a shooting right here on the corner once,” Morgan said.

Morgan said public safety in Gilpin Court remains a challenge.

“A lot of gunshots and things like that,” Morgan said.

Now that the gate is closed on RRHA’s Police Department, Morgan fears the worst.

“The incidence of violence will probably go up,” Morgan said.

The Department was created back in 2006 out of RRHA’s public safety office.

Its seven officers were let go Monday at an impromptu meeting.

One officer told CBS6 they were “stunned” by the news and residents said they are equally surprised.

“That’s crazy they need to put it back up…because this is a dangerous neighborhood,” Charmaine Mitchell, who lives in Gilpin Court, said.

Housing authorities are not required to have a police department.

In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, New York City’s housing authority pays the city’s police department millions of dollars to patrol its housing projects.

CBS6 tried to ask RRHA if the New York City model might be used here, but a spokeswoman declined to talk to us.

Instead, she sent us a statement saying RRHA will continue to partner with local government for public safety services.

Morgan has a feeling Richmond’s police will now have to do more.

“They’re going to have to pick up the slack,” Morgan said.