INVESTIGATION: Severance packages for RRHA police officers - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

INVESTIGATION: Severance packages for RRHA police officers

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

New documents shed light onto what's been described as the shocking and secret shutdown of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Police Department.

A six-page separation agreement was given to Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority Police officers at the emergency meeting they were called to. It details what they can and cannot do in order to get their severance pay. That pay would replace the regular paychecks they didn't know they wouldn't be able to count on 

Wednesday, RRHA Police cars were still parked in the headquarters lot, but no police business was going on inside the building. The officers who patrolled are now contemplating the documents we acquired.

If they sign the severance packages, RRHA will continue to pay their salaries for three months.

Officers we talked to say because they were given no notice the department would be closing and they'd be losing their jobs, they have no choice but to sign the severance package. They say to them it feels like in a way the agency is buying their silence.

That's because the agreement contains both a confidentiality clause and a section that says the officers will not give anyone "proprietary information."

"There's nothing unlawful about the authority in exchange for giving severance, if they're not required to do that anyway, in exchange for a promise of confidentiality," explained NBC12 legal analyst. "The question, however, is why do they need to do that. If you have nothing to hide, why are you acting like you do?"

While the officers say they feel forced into signing the agreements, Benjamin says this is not the type of duress that would invalidate a contract and the officers do not have to accept the severance.

Under the agreement, the officers also release RRHA from any future claims against the agency.

The Virginia Association for Chiefs of Police says this is a unique set of circumstances and can't be compared to an officer leaving a municipal police department. Executive Director Dana Schrad tells us that's because it is unlikely a city or county department would be dissolved completely.

The documents NBC12 has have not been signed yet, so the confidentiality clause is not in effect. Officers were given 45 days to make a decision.

We asked RRHA for a comment on our story, but have not heard back from a spokesperson.

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