RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond man is fed up with the city’s cop shortage after he says it took police more than an hour to respond to his 911 call and he ended up with a bullet through his home.
“I don’t know if my scenario was a failure or if this is what we have come to expect…but man it was not a good situation,” Christopher May said during a public safety meeting last week. “I hear more gunshots and see less police in my neighborhood than anywhere else in the city.”
May lives in the Oak Grove area, and said he called police last weekend for a rowdy party in his neighborhood. He said he reported the situation at 1:42 a.m., but when he checked an hour later, he did not see the report on the active call list.
Shortly after that, he heard between 10 to 15 gunshots. One of those bullets pierced his walls and television.
“I have footage of people dancing on top of vehicles and it wasn’t until someone decided to shoot 15 bullets in the street, hitting multiples homes and vehicles, that the Sergeant had to come out,” May said. “That makes no sense from a best practices standard.”
May said the responding officer blamed the delayed response on a critical staffing shortage within the department.
“The Sergeant says they all go to Shockoe Bottom to prepare for the bars to get out that way… and I’m not arguing that one,” May said. “But it makes no sense where a home that had someone shot (…) and a street that has problems, it takes an hour to get there. This could’ve been prevented. Heaven forbid if anyone was shot or injured, how long would it have taken anyone to respond?”
In an email to 8News, Richmond Police spokesperson Tracy Walker said May’s initial call was not listed as an “emergency”‘ and therefore was not responded to immediately.
However, Walker’s statement also acknowledged that the department is short staffed.
“We are aware of the ongoing challenges and are committed to working together to create solutions,” Walker said. “We continue to look at our staffing to see how we can best be creative in addressing our communities’ needs as we face the reality of being down 165 officers.”
When fully staffed, the Richmond Police department employs 755 officers.
Walker also said acting police chief Rick Edwards has been meeting privately with residents of the Oak Grove neighborhood to address their concerns.
Meantime, the Chief says he is working to recruit more officers — including those who have retired — to address public safety concerns.
“We don’t get to go to work with the department I wish we had,” Edwards said. “I have to go with what I currently have. But we are just struggling with staffing.”