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Stoney appoints new 'reform-minded' police chief in Richmond

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 07:20:04-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Mayor Levar Stoney announced Friday that Gerald Smith, the Deputy Police Chief of Charlotte Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, will assume the role of Richmond Police Chief on July 1.

William 'Jody' Blackwell, who stepped down from the position on Friday, will continue to serve as chief until then.

“It's been a lot going on over the course of the last three weeks. I think he has done his part," Stoney said. "He’s stepped up in the gap for us and I’m grateful for that”

Stoney referred to Smith as an "innovator" and a "reform-minded change agent," and said that he believed Smith would help to re-imagine policing and public safety in Richmond.

“Deputy Chief Gerald Smith is who Richmond needs right now – a reform-minded leader with deep experience in community policing and de-escalation,” said Mayor Stoney.

Stoney said that he spoke to a number of candidates to assume the role of the police chief, and said that Smith "rose to the top of the list" and has experience in community policing.

Smith currently serves as the Executive Officer of Investigative Services in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. In that position, he commands criminal investigations including domestic violence, crimes against children, sexual assault, and homicide.

He has been with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department since 1991, rising in the ranks from community police officer to deputy chief.

“I am grateful for Interim Chief Blackwell’s continued service to the Richmond Police Department,” said Mayor Stoney. “Since the departure of former Chief William Smith, we have been searching for a permanent chief. I’m excited for Gerald Smith, a proven change-agent, to serve Richmond in that capacity.”

Friday evening, hours before the mayor's announcement of the new police, protesters told CBS 6 that they wanted the community to have a say in choosing the next chief.

“We have a to have a process and a system that includes and prioritizes the community's voice in selecting who is going to be a police chief as long as that position lasts," Joseph Rogers said.

Stoney also said that he and the new chief would address the use of tear gas and other deterrents police have used on protesters.

“I’ve told the chief that we will provide new policies on the use of chemical irritants moving forward. We’ll have the policies rolled out pretty quickly," Stoney said.