Richmond City Council approves $1.6 million to hire 40 officers

Richmond City Council approves $1.6 million to hire 40 officers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More police officers will soon hit the streets of Richmond as the city's top cop pleaded for the city to take action. A crowd of officers and supporters packed City Hall Monday night, urging elected leaders to come up with extra funding to help keep residents safe.

"There was a time I would go to work and before coming in and putting my uniform on, I would kiss my children because I didn't know if I was coming home," said Richmond police officer Gene Carter.

Every day, officers put their lives on the line running to the rescue of crime victims. But Monday night, officers told City Council, they're the ones in need of being rescued.

"We cannot do our jobs effectively. Please help us," Carter pleaded.

A crowd of police officers stood united as community leaders urged city council to do something.

"We're losing people, two to three officers every month," said Richmond officer Thomas Gilbert, a 23 year veteran of the Richmond Police Department. "Ever since I've been here, it's been a training ground. We lose people because the counties are paying more, the feds were paying more."

Now his department is doing more with less. Officers are concerned there's not enough of them to meet the demand for their services.

"The unfortunate part is now when I kiss my kids goodbye, it's because I may have to work an extra shift. I have to pick up that off duty. I can't afford to come home some days," Carter said.

This year, there have been 59 homicides in the city of Richmond. The most recent, just this weekend, an 18-year-old woman was shot and killed.

"This police department is bleeding and it will continue to," Carter added.

It prompted City Council to respond, agreeing to hand over $1.6 million to the Richmond Police Department. That will allow Chief Alfred Durham to hire 40 new officers.

"It feels great. I've been here before council on several occasions asking for resources. The citizens want it but my officers needed it also. I'm more concerned with the safety of my officers," Durham said.

"What is it going to take to retain these officers?" NBC 12 asked.

"It's going to take work. You've got to fix the pay and you've got to fix the compression," he said.

The new recruits will hit the streets in July.

Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved