Task force recommends more de-escalation training, wellness checks for police officers

Task force recommends more de-escalation training, wellness checks for police officers
Richmond Police vehicle (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Mayor Levar Stoney’s Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety is out with its first set of recommendations.

Nearly two dozen people make up the task force that was introduced in July. The task force is broken into subgroups that include human services lens, use of force and community engagement and healing.

“Our work isn’t just about police. It’s about expanding the definition of public safety and public safety officers to include social service professionals and community members,” said co-chair Daryl Fraser. “If we don’t take a holistic approach, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.”

Among the ideas, it came up with the task force recommends more de-escalation training for police, more accountability measures, health-and-wellness checks for police officers, and shortening officer shifts from 12 to 10 hours, among a list of other recommendations.

“These are systems-level changes,” said subgroup co-chair Torey Edmonds. “Therefore, there must be accountability alongside those changes.”

The group also proposed the creation of a center for racial and social justice.

“After meeting with the co-chairs of the Task Force to Reimagine Public Safety and co-chairs of each of the subgroups, I am in consensus with their recommendations,” said Mayor Stoney. “They propose systems-level changes for the undeniably systemic challenges we face. The members are pushing our city in the right direction when it comes to broadening the definition of public safety and innovating our policies and programs accordingly.”

The final recommendations are due in November.

“I appreciate the comprehensive feedback and suggestions of this group of experts and community members,” said Chief of Police Gerald Smith. “Their attention to current policies and practices and innovative reform suggestions are a welcome starting point.”

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