RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond City Councilman has called for an investigation into the Richmond Police Department's budget with the intention of defunding the police.
On Monday, Councilman Michael Jones of Richmond's 9th district called for an "honest and transparent discussion about the funding allocated to our police department."
“We’re not talking about getting boots off the ground, we’re not talking about RPD going away but we’re talking about RPD looking drastically different than it does today and the reality is this- the people need to own that conversation and help get that conversation going," Jones said.
Jones said that public trust in the Richmond Police Department and in the City of Richmond's government was severely damaged throughout a week of protests in response to nationwide police brutality and the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a White Minneapolis Police Officer on Memorial Day weekend.
Jones also said that the Richmond Police Department had failed the city when a group of thousands of peaceful protesters was teargassed without warning while gathering on Monument Avenue last week.
“The city government failed its people. Innocent individuals were tear-gassed based on fear in a place of privilege where you have monuments and mansions, so who’s afraid, who’s really afraid in this moment because where we are right now?" Jones said. "The way things are currently going, it’s ok for African American men and African American women to be killed by police with no recourse and the government has done a thing to address it and that’s why I’m here.”
"I am calling for a deep dive into the Richmond Police Department's budget with the intention of defunding the police," Jones said. "Funding must be reallocated to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by over-policing and a continued lack of resources."
Calls to "defund the police" have been a center point of protests across the country as protesters call for budget cuts to police departments in order to reallocate funds towards social services like education, housing, and medical care.
“The reality is, police don’t stop crime. We need to put funding behind black creatives that know the young people in the streets, they know the people living on the Southside and in Gilpin Court so they can go in and speak their language and help them find a creative way in which to get out. We need to fund black organizations, black healthcare providers and black non-profits," Jones said.
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation issued the following statement in response to Jones' call for defunding:
"While the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police agrees that there is a need to provide additional resources to social services, education, and mental health services, fulfilling this need should not come at the expense of police funding. By the very nature of the profession, the police remain the only entity of government that consistently responds to every situation where immediate help is needed. In an already underfunded profession, resources should not be taken away from the police, but rather, additional resources should be given to these other areas of societal need."