Testy exchange over Mayor Jones security detail overshadows larger issues

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 29, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. – Both the Chief of Police, Alfred Durham, and the Richmond Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Dana Bedden, have asked city officials for more funding, amid a budget shortfall and at a time when line items are being slashed.

Tensions ran high at Thursday night’s City Council work session as both Bedden and Durham presented reasons why their instituion’s needs should be added to the budget.

The discussion surrounding Mayor Dwight Jones’ security detail derailed the conversation. The mayor's security detail grew to half a million dollars this year, up $100,000 from last year.

"You've already told us that you needed 38 more police officers, but it's okay for Mr. Mayor to have somebody ride him around,” said 8th District Councilwoman Reva Trammell. “Also I'd like to know did those police officers go out of town with him?”

"Ms. Trammell, I have to, have to beg to differ,” Chief Durham fired back.

Instead of fighting for his budget and more manpower, a public safety issue, Durham had to spend nearly two hours defending the Mayor's security detail.

“There's a lot of information things that I know, that I can't share publicly and I will not share publicly, if it's going to impede or impact an investigation or some type of threat,” Durham said.

"I will tell you right now,” Trammell said, “the citizens are saying enough is enough with the Mayor having police protection -- seven million dollars so far.”

“Think about that, that's what the schools want,” she added.

'When I went Denver on the inner city visit two years ago, I didn`t need to see a couple of police officers acting a security detail for the mayor,” said 2nd District Councilman Charles Samuels. “Nobody in Denver wants to hurt Mayor Jones.”

And while Trammel later said it was unfortunate the meeting wasn’t more peaceful, she said ultimately it is her job is to protect city taxpayers.

“It’s getting real where you can’t go anywhere, you have to stay at home, that’s how bad it is getting,” said Jimmy McGlaughlin, a concerned taxpayer who resides near where a recent rash of deadly shooting have occurred.

By the end of the night, council members voted 5 to 4 to re-assign those officers on detail to other duties within the Richmond Police Department, but the main budget issues for police and schools remained unresolved.

The council indicated it could find only $5 million of the $18 million the school system has requested.



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