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Task force offers 15 recommendations to 'reimagine' Richmond Police

Posted at 12:04 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 17:16:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- After three months of discussion, a panel charged with reforming Richmond Police released its final recommendation to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

The Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety is made up of 21 members of the public including community organizations, individuals impacted by police, and some members of law enforcement.

Mayor Stoney charged the group with reviewing the police's use of force, mental health resources, and exploring options for community engagement.

The task force made a total of 15 recommendations.

They include:

  • Reimagining the training process for use of force
  • Improving accountability measures for police
  • Focusing on healing the relationship between Richmond Police and the community

The task force said it wanted to see new training that focused on de-escalation and required all Richmond Police officers to stop any other Richmond Police officer from conducting any act deemed unethical, illegal, or against policy.

One recommendation was to create a new system for responding to calls for mental health crises, substance abuse, and other non-criminal calls.

Those calls would go to a non -police line where mental health and other social service professionals can intervene.

Martin Buxton, a Richmond psychiatrist, said this could be a game-changing approach in certain instances.

"In certain situations, it's going to be immensely helpful. It doesn't 100% solve the problem and it certainly will not universally take care of the problem, but I applaud the city," Buxton said. "I applaud the mayor for attempting this and I think as years go on of doing this, the expertise will grow."

"I'm mindful and appreciative of the emphasis the task force placed on equity and restorative justice throughout the process," Mayor Stoney said in response to the final report.

Richmond Chief of Police Gerald Smith added, "We look forward to thoroughly evaluating these recommendations to enhance current practices and reimagine public safety with the community."

The mayor's office will now review the recommendations, establish a plan to implement them, and seek community input.

Mayor Stoney announced the need for the task force in June following, at that time, weeks of Black Lives Matter marches, protests against police brutality, and social unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer.

The full final report can be found here.