Richmond Police shakeup: Chief Smith makes major changes

Posted at 9:39 PM, Feb 02, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- Three longtime members of the Richmond Police Department were removed from Police Chief Gerald Smith's command staff and terminated from the department, multiple Crime Insider sources told Jon Burkett.

Deputy Chief John O'Kleasky, Maj. Jody Blackwell, and Maj. Roger Russell were informed Tuesday that their services were no longer needed.

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Deputy Chief John O'Kleasky, Maj. Jody Blackwell, and Maj. Roger Russell

A spokesperson for Richmond Police would not confirm the terminations but provided the following statement when asked to address the situation.

"Chief Smith joined the Richmond Police Department a little more than half a year ago. During this time, he has learned a lot about the extraordinary people who work at RPD, and the value of the service RPD provides to the Richmond community, every day," a Richmond Police spokesperson wrote in an email. "As Chief Smith strives to further develop the Department and implement a new vision, he is making changes at the executive level of leadership in the Department. RPD does not comment on personnel matters."

Russell had 37 years of service of Richmond Police, O'Kleasky had 31 years, and Blackwell had 23 years.

Blackwell briefly served as interim chief when former Chief William Smith resigned in 2020 following a series of incidents between his officers and protesters during a spring and summer of civil unrest.

Blackwell resigned as interim chief 10 days after he was named to the position.

During that time, he refused to answer questions about a 2002 police shooting in Richmond during which he killed another man.

No specific reasons were given for the changes in Richmond Police leadership.

An email sent to members of the department indicated Captain Rick Edwards was promoted to "Acting" Major of Area I and Major Darrell Goins was named Major of Business Services.

This is a developing story.



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