Richmond Police Coalition demands Chief’s resignation; Stoney disagrees, supports Smith

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — In a press conference Thursday morning, the Richmond Coalition of Police announced the results of a recent survey of their members, detailing their dissatisfaction with Police Chief Gerald Smith.

Out of the 328 RCOP members, 261 participated in the survey. According to RCOP, the results indicate that its rank-and-file members have lost confidence in Smith’s ability to effectively lead the department.

Out of the 261 officers surveyed, 96% said they have lost confidence in Smith’s ability to lead Richmond’s Police Department, 99% said they have seen no improvements to morale since Smith took over, 89% said they do not feel valued by Smith and 82% said they have strongly considered leaving the department before their retirement.

The coalition then formally requested Smith resign immediately, so that his replacement “can get on with the business of restoring RPD to its former glory.”

RCOP is calling for Chief Administrative Officer Lincoln Saunders and Mayor Levar Stoney to remove Smith if he refuses to resign. RCOP also says it is currently working on a comprehensive pay plan with the city.

This survey was the most recent of three done by RCOP in 2021. According to RCOP, Chief Smith did not fare well in either of the first two.

Mayor Levar Stoney backed Chief Smith to retain the role when asked by 8News if he agreed with the coalition’s demand.

“I have full confidence in Chief Smith,” Stoney said. “What I am seeing from RCOP is just another cockamamie tactic to try and unionize the Richmond Police Department. We’re going to focus on the matters at hand, that is focusing on police compensation and salary in the coming year, so we can be competitive with the other localities in the region, we are going to enhance our recruitment as well”

When asked about how he can have confidence in the chief after a 15-year high homicide rate, Stoney related the violence to what is happening “across the country.”

“As you all reported the other night, we are seeing an increase, a spike in crime all over Central Virginia and across the country as well,” he said. “I think there’s many reasons behind that. I think one of the reasons is because of COVID-19. I think COVID-19 has put a lot of pressure, the pandemic, on a lot on institutions like lawn enforcement but also institutions that are focused on human services.”

8News reached out to the Richmond Police Department for an interview with Chief Gerald Smith. The department referred to the city’s Chief Administrative Officer for comment about RCOP. We haven’t received a response.

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