RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Former Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith is now the third police chief to resign from Richmond Police in the last two years.
According to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, this was ultimately Smith’s decision. Gerald Smith was made police chief in June 2020 during a period of unrest in the city.
Earlier this week, Reva Trammell, who represents the 8th voter district on City Council called for his resignation.
“If you don’t have leadership and you don’t feel like the chief is out there for the men and the women and the citizens, what do you say? You say, ‘Chief, you know, we’ve given you two years,’” Trammell said.
Although the city has not provided a reason for Smith’s resignation, there has been criticism over the handling of specific investigations and complaints of ‘low morale’ within the department. According to Trammell, morale was low among citizens and police officers.
The Richmond Coalition of Police represents more than 300 officers. The coalition is expected to release survey results on their stance on Smith.
In December 2021, the coalition demanded his resignation.
Out of the 261 officers that were surveyed during this time, 96% said they lost confidence in Smith’s ability to lead the department.
At a press conference in July, Smith said they received a tip about a mass shooting plot planned for July 4th.
“It came from someone who did the right thing. It came from a hero,” Smith said.
There, he identified Dogwood Dell as the target.
Two months later, a judge confirmed the target was unknown. Through a records request, it was revealed to 8News that Smith was told the target was unknown minutes before addressing the media.
That same month, the Former Police Chief Smith closed all discussion with reporters. A few weeks later, 8News was able to sit down with Smith for a one-on-one interview.
8News reporter Olivia Jaquith asked Smith how he determined Dogwood Dell as the target.
He answered, “From the facts, from the tipster, from the investigation, and from my 30 years’ experience.”
Smith admitted that there could have been better communication.
During the month of September, Smith and the Richmond Police Department held ‘Community Conversations,’ a series of in-person conversations with the community.
Following the fallout of his eventual resignation, Councilman Michael Jones, who represents the 9th district on City Council reacted.
“The fact that he stepped in during a tumultuous time, it was an uphill battle from day one. It wouldn’t have mattered who stepped into that role,” Jones said. “We need someone who’s able to, one, connect with the men and women that are there to rally them. Second, we need someone who’s going to get out and listen to the community.”
Smith is the third police chief to resign since 2020.
In 2020, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney requested the resignation of Chief William Smith after multiple clashes between Richmond Police officers and protesters during a period of unrest.
His replacement, William ‘Jody’ Blackwell was named Interim Police Chief and stepped down after just 11 days. Blackwell is currently suing Stoney and Former Chief Gerald Smith for wrongful termination.
He claimed that Mayor Stoney asked him to order his officers to guard Confederate monuments as crews removed them. He alleges he was fired for refusing. Stoney claims public outcry over a 2002 shooting is what led to Blackwell stepping down. Blackwell fatally shot a man while working as a police officer in Richmond.
According to the city, Gerald Smith will be on administrative leave until the end of the year. In the meantime, Maj. Richard Edwards is temporarily serving as Acting Police Chief.