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Richmond Coalition of Police calls for Chief Smith to resign amid high violence, low morale

Posted at 4:54 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 18:42:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Coalition of Police (RCOP) called on Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith to step down from the job on Thursday.

The vote of no confidence comes as the city's homicide rate (80+) and reported shootings (230+) hit recent highs.

As violent crime spiked in 2021, the department was left with more than 100 vacancies as officers voiced concerns about low pay and low morale.

"Members were asked, 'Do you have confidence in Chief Gerald M. Smith's ability to lead the City of Richmond Police Department?'" RCOP President Brendan Leavy said. "Approximately 96% of the 261 members responded 'no.'"

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RCOP president Brendan Leavy

RCP consists of 328 members, which accounts for a little over half of the 624 sworn Richmond Police personnel.

  • 99% of respondents said they haven't noticed improvements in morale since Chief Smith took over in 2020
  • 89% of respondents said they don't feel valued
  • 82% of respondents said they've strongly considered leaving the Richmond Police Department

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he had full confidence in Chief Smith

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"[This is] just another cockamamie tactic [by those] who seek to unionize the Richmond Police Department," Stoney said in response to the RCOP press conference which, he noted, came after an ordinance was introduced at City Hall that would allow officers to negotiate their pay and benefits. "It's no coincidence now that on the week that papers were introduced to city council, one that includes collective bargaining for police officers, one that did not include it, that this is a sort of tactic that you see."

The mayor said he planned to focus on the matters at hand and work to increase salaries within the department to prevent officers from leaving Richmond for higher-paying jobs.

Officers in Richmond earn $43,000 as a starting salary as a recruit. The salary increases to $44,000 after Police Academy graduation. In Henrico, starting police salary is $51,913.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.