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Mayor Stoney: 'Richmond is ready to reimagine public safety'

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 17:52:49-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The City of Richmond is ready to "reimagine public safety," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said after he announced the resignation of Police Chief William Smith amid weeks of protests against police brutality and for Black Lives Matter.

In addition to naming an interim chief, Mayor Stoney announced changes he'd like to implement with the way the Richmond Police Department operates. Changes that include a citizen review board to provide a system of checks and balances to police work.

"My hope is that City Council will be proactive in collaborating with me and community leaders in all 9 of their districts to craft a citizen review board with complete community buy-in,” Mayor Stoney said.

He also announced he would sign the Obama Pledge for Mayors which would commit Richmond Police to re-evaluating its use of force policy.

He also pledged to create a 20-person task force, made up of police, scholars, activists, and mental health experts to reimagine the role of Richmond Police.

"The mission is to make public safety recommendations that build toward equity and justice," he said. "Using a restorative justice framework, we can reimagine public safety to create a truly safer city for all of its residents, meaning both the members of the community and the officers that serve this great community. We will benefit from reimagining public safety."

Echoing the sentiments of some in the "Defund the Police" movement, Mayor Stoney indicated Richmond Police respond to too large a variety of calls -- from homelessness to mental health crises.

“We can’t expect our police officers to serve as social workers, psychologists, and juvenile trauma experts, intervening in these situations because America hasn’t properly prioritized other service providers. It does not make our country, or our city, safer," he said.

This is a developing story.