Safety concerns surround closure of RRHA Police Department - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Safety concerns surround closure of RRHA Police Department

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There are security concerns for several Richmond communities after the agency that oversees them decided to close its police department.

The shutdown of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Police Department goes into effect Tuesday. The decision has some wondering who will protect those neighborhoods.

In a statement, RRHA says it has taken measures to make sure residents will "enjoy the benefits of dedicated security service and protection." What that means at this point is unclear, as Richmond Police, who would presumably take over these communities, would not comment on the situation Monday.

The people who live in these neighborhoods were only given one day's notice that their police department is closing its doors; same goes for RRHA officers. In fact, when NBC12 broke this story Monday, those officers didn't even know they were being let go.

There was silence from them as they left an emergency meeting where they were told they no longer have a job.

While mostly kept a secret, sources say this move has been in the works for quite some time. After we sent out the breaking news alert, RRHA sent out a statement which says, "[RRHA] has concluded that its residents are better served by deploying its resources in a manner more consistent with its core mission of providing housing services rather than providing ancillary security services."

But some of those residents disagree.

"Maybe it'll get worse because then everybody knows they're not over here now," Shamecca May, who has lived in the housing projects for nine years, said. "I don't think I want to be here to see what happens for real."

As for what happened behind closed doors, we might not find out. Even the acting police chief isn't talking and directed our questions to the RRHA spokeswoman.

"I have to refer you back to Osita, and while that's distasteful, that's what the policy is with the confidentiality agreement," Acting RRHA Police Chief Paul Kiniry told us.

According to sources, if officers do not sign that agreement, they won't be getting any pay. Insiders say they have 45 days to decide between silence and severance and are devastated by the news.

The RRHA Police Department was started back in 2006 by then-Chief Hal Hazelton, who was fired last year amid controversy and is now suing agency leaders.

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