Richmond City Sheriff says jail is understaffed, answers questions about staff, inmate safety

On Tuesday, Sheriff Antionette Irving was called before the city council to discuss safety issues for inmates and staff.
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 4:43 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The City of Richmond’s Sheriff is on defense after questions about conditions inside the Richmond City Jail. On Tuesday, Sheriff Antionette Irving was called before the city council to discuss safety issues for inmates and staff.

“You just said people love coming to work. Why they leaving? Every time I turn, it’s more people leaving out of your, the jail, then it is at other departments, why?” said Reva Trammel, Richmond City Council.

Sheriff Irving said they’re short 160 people now; that’s half of the department. She also told of the more than 600 inmates currently housed; about half are considered violent, and many suffer from mental health issues.

“We should be safe. We should feel comfortable going to work. We shouldn’t worry about being attacked. We shouldn’t worry about being beat with our own radio,” said Charles Davis, a former Richmond City Sheriff Deputy.

Davis says an inmate assaulted him in Sept. 2020. He provided NBC12 surveillance video of the attack. Now, Davis wants change.

“I’m here to ask for accountability for our elected officials, our command staff, our sheriff to make sure these people are held accountable to the policies, to the safety and to the security of those who make the decision to give their time,” said Davis.

Aside from attacks on deputies, there are other reports of inmates attacking each other.

“We do have issues at the sheriff’s office. Yes, we do. Some of the information you’re getting is not correct,” said Irving.

The sheriff says they’re working to better train those dealing with inmates. She even spent $40,000 recently on new protective vests to prevent potential stabbings and other attacks on jail staff.

“We’re in an era of violence. Not just in the city, but all the violence in the city draws into the jail. So, we’re working on different aspects of training for our staff to be prepared and be ready for things that happen,” said Sheriff Irving.

The sheriff also wants to ask the city council for money to streamline mental health treatment, including an on-site facility.

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