RPD chief says protests taking financial and physical toll on his department

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Being the state capital, Richmond has become a hotbed for protests.

Just this week, the city has seen three days of protests, all requiring extra officers and un-budgeted over time hours.

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said in an ideal world, police departments would know about protests ahead of time. Then, officers and necessary resources could be allocated.

“Then we have those protests that are unannounced and those are the ones that really put a financial strain on the city,” Chief Alfred Durham explained.

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Chief Durham said in 2016, the department spent $44,000 on protests. So far this fiscal year, they’ve spent $128,000 in overtime costs due to protests.

With protests mainly happening at night, many officers are also staying long past the end of their normal shift.

“One thing that I have to be concerned about as a chief of police is the fatigue factor and what happens when you’re fatigued and tired,” Durham said. “Your tolerance level is diminished.”

He said then it all goes back to their training and making sure officers know to treat everyone involved with respect. So far, he believes it has paid off.

“At the end of mostly all the protests, they come and shake our hands and say thank you,” Chief Durham said. “I think that’s the difference then what we see as we look at what’s going on all across the country.”

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Chief Durham said he is already working with the city to see how they can plan ahead for future budget years as he predicts this protest climate will continue.

In a statement, Mayor Levar Stoney said, “we will do whatever it takes to protect the first amendment rights of free speech and keep Richmonders safe.”

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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