RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Former Richmond Chief of Police, Gerald Smith, announced his resignation after two years of service on Tuesday, following criticism from officers and city leaders.
8News reached out to Mayor Levar Stoney for comment, outside of prepared statements. When asked if Smith’s resignation was his own decision or a push from the city, Stoney had this to say:
“I was not in the meeting, so I did not ask for any resignation, these are decisions made by the chief. As I stated earlier, I was not in the meeting,” he said. “
Stoney told 8News that Smith submitted his resignation in a private meeting. He refused to answer any further questions, citing a “personal matter.”I respect the chief’s decision. I appreciate his service.”
Smith was appointed by Stoney as police chief on July 1, 2020, following the ouster of former police chief William Smith and the 11-day tenure of William “Jody” Blackwell as interim police chief.
The appointment came at a time of civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In his statement on Tuesday, Stoney thanked Smith for his leadership at the time.
“I want to [thank] former Chief Gerald Smith for his service to the City of Richmond and his leadership during the height of civil unrest and the global pandemic,” Stoney said.
Stoney said he handpicked Smith after receiving recommendations from former Richmond police chiefs and others.
“Smith came in during a crisis moment for the city. In 2022 we’re in a different season,” Stoney said.
A day before Smith announced he would be resigning, 8News reported he had faced criticism from officers and city leaders. Concerns were raised over crime in the city, including several fatal shootings, and over the handling of an investigation of two men accused of plotting a mass shooting on July 4.
“I’m not going to get into back-and-forth playing Monday morning quarterbacking on that decision,” Stoney said when asked what the reason for Smith’s resignation could be.
Major Richard Edwards was announced to be temporarily appointed as acting police chief following Smith’s resignation. In that same announcement, Stoney said that a nationwide search would be conducted to find Smith’s permanent replacement.
“Leadership does matter and Chief Edwards is good for the transition, but we’ll get to a permanent place where someone will continue this work,” Stoney said.
Today, Stoney told 8News that his focus is now on the future of the department, community policing and filling the 150 open police officer positions.
“I respect the chief’s decision, I appreciate his service, and as I’ve stated in the past, there’s a season for everything,” Stoney said.