RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney presented his “local roadmap for reimagining public safety” at an informal meeting of Richmond City Council.
Stoney said his administration is pursuing a human services-centered approach to public safety and strengthing and creating new partnerships between the city and community organizations.
“Of course, we need officers to respond to violent and criminal acts, but we cannot expect our police officers to serve as social workers, psychologists, child trauma experts and mental health workers, responding to every non-criminal call for service because America hasn’t properly prioritized other service providers,” said Stoney. “It does not make our country, or our city, safer.”
Stoney plans to look at the following categories when restructuring and reforming: policy, accountability, programs, community healing and engagement and governance.
Stoney said RPD has updated and strengthened their Duty to Intervene policy, “which ensures that officers are legally and morally obligated to intervene when they believe an officer or supervisor is about to use excessive or unnecessary force or observe other inappropriate actions.”
RPD also updated its long-standing ban on chokeholds.
Stoney said a Civilian Review Board should be established that is independent of the police department and representative of the Richmond community. He also requested that the City Council engage with constituents and draft legislation to create the board.
Stoney also plans on hosting two community engagement meetings before the ordinance is drafted and introduced.
“This is my goal: over the next few weeks and months, we will collectively engage the community, seek input from RPD, review best practices and present an ordinance for introduction,” said Stoney.
“The city will create a formal crisis alert system, called the Marcus Alert. The Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) and RPD will implement a responsive citywide alert system that allows the two agencies to work collaboratively to address calls about mental and behavioral health crises, ensuring residents get the help they need,” Stoney said.
Community Healing and Engagement:
Stoney has founded the Task Force for Reimagining Public Safety, which will bring together more than 20 individuals from the activist, legal, academic, law enforcement, mental and behavioral health and other communities to agree on a set of actionable steps forward within 90 days of the first meeting.
The task force will also focus on making public safety recommendations that build toward equity and justice.
Stoney has also announced his commitment to remove the Confederate statues on city property along Monument Avenue.
Stoney has asked his executive cabinet to report back to him with several ways in which policies and practices within their portfolios can be changed to actively advance equity.
“The issues we have with our public safety system, and with creating racial equity and justice more broadly in our community, do not have an easy or straightforward solution,” Stoney told the council. “It’s going to take compassion, conversation and teamwork to create meaningful change in our city.”
“But, the work cannot and will not stop here,” continued Stoney. “We have to remember that public safety is not the only system that needs to be reformed. We have work to do to ensure that our kids are receiving a high-quality education, that affordable housing opportunities are available across the city for all residents, that city services are delivered in an effective and efficient manner, and that we provide pathways for economic mobility. This is our time, our chance, our opportunity to renew Richmond — to give it new strength and spirit.”
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