RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A major shift in departments and a desperate plea for funding at the Richmond Police Department is underway in response to an urgent staffing shortage.
Last week, 8News exposed veteran officers fleeing the Richmond force in droves. Now, Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham has submitted a staffing request to the City Administration and City Council.
The chief is asking for 70 more police officers between now and the Fall of 2017, which would cost the city roughly $5.6 million dollars. City council would have to approve that funding.
In the report, the chief states:
“We are at a crossroads, and it is clear that we must act now or risk losing further ground. Without hiring more officers, we will not be able to keep up with attrition and risk falling even further behind.”
The Mayor supports the call for more police. In a letter he sent to City Council, he says, “I believe an infusion of resources to RPD is what we need to prevent the City from losing ground on low crime numbers we have worked so hard to achieve.”
The Mayor says about $3.6 million could come from the Rocketts Landing Utilities Agreement settlement payment, as well as a surplus of funds from fiscal year 2016.
In addition to the call for more officers, the Chief Durham is also making some immediate staffing changes as the city’s homicide rate soars. Part of the chief’s plan is moving officers from special units and putting them back on patrol.
Officers are being pulled from the CAPS unit, which handles property enforcement, the narcotics unit and the Hope unit, which works with the homeless and other departments like records.
The Chief is also considering shifting 23 positions from sworn officers to civilian jobs. It could allow those sworn officers to perform more critical policing functions. The jobs that could be shifted to civilian positions would be in human resources, finance, records and the community youth unit. Chief Durham also thinks this could save money for the department. Uniforms and police equipment would not be necessary for civilians.
8News found 100 officers resigned from RPD in the past 4 years.
Chief Durham tells 8News he is losing officers at a rate of three per month. Many tell 8News they are getting out of policing or taking jobs at departments that pay more.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.