Richmond's New Police Chief Doesn't Support Defunding Cops

Jul 14, 2020

Richmond’s new permanent police chief has been on the job for a couple weeks now. He says the city has a great police department, but morale is low. 

Since taking the job, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith says he’s visited the Robert E. Lee monument— which has been the site of violent clashes between protestors and police in recent weeks. He says he plans to hire an outside consultant to review what has happened. 

Speaking to reporters Monday, Smith says he does not support one of protestors’ primary demands, defunding the police. If anything he says the police need more money 

“The question is not defund the police, it’s fund the change,” Smith said. “And I think right now is a great opportunity to have those discussions.”

Smith, however, does support another of the community’s demands, an independent civilian review board with subpoena power. 

“But I’m hoping there is some vigorous conversations that take place and even some clashing of ideas and clashing of concepts because that is when some hard work can be done and authentic conversations can be had and we can actually get to a good result in the end.” 

Smith says he’ll be meeting with city councilors and touring neighborhoods this week.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.