Thursday, January 31, 2019

Mayor Levar Stoney Announces Virginia's First Eviction Diversion Program at 2019 State of the City Address


Mayor Proposes Key Initiatives to Build an Inclusive and Competitive City

Mayor Levar M. Stoney delivered his 2019 State of the City address this evening, unveiling bold and ambitious, first of their kind initiatives to further Richmond’s progress as an inclusive and competitive city serving the needs of all Richmonders.

Speaking before a packed auditorium at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, and streaming online via Facebook, Mayor Stoney announced the creation of a new, first of its kind Eviction Diversion Program, and inclusion in his 2019-20 budget of a 20-year capital improvement plan to make needed investments in city streets, sidewalks, community centers and city transportation fleet, among other priorities. 

The pilot Eviction Diversion Program is a new partnership between the city and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Housing Opportunities Made Equal and city courts system. Mayor Stoney said the program incorporates pro-bono attorney representation and financial assistance to support eligible tenants, mediation between landlords and tenants and payment plans to ensure landlords receive tenants’ rent due in a timely fashion.

Mayor Stoney announced a new city lactation policy for nursing mothers, the first of its kind among any city in the South. He made a commitment of support to renaming the Boulevard to Arthur Ashe Boulevard as well.

“This is what it means to be inclusive,” said Mayor Stoney. “This is what makes us more competitive; and that’s what building ‘One Richmond’ is all about.”

In reviewing his administration's significant accomplishments of 2018, Mayor Stoney proclaimed, “I can say without equivocation – and with pride and gratitude – the state of our city is strong!” Adding, “Richmond is competing, and it is competing at a higher level than it has in a long time.”

Examples of these 2018 successes included new investments in education and the groundbreaking of three new public schools, a new Department of Citizen Service and Response, achievements in multimodal transportation and affordable housing, establishment of the Shockoe Alliance to advance the future of the Shockoe area and raising Richmond’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) score to 94. 

The MEI is the Human Rights Campaign’s measure of a locality’s responsiveness to the LGBTQIA+ community, and Richmond achieved the greatest score increase of any locality in the United States in 2018, and highest score in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Mayor Stoney cautioned the city would not rest on the laurels of success or progress made, but let the audience and viewers know he is still excited about Richmond’s future and achievements made to date, “I am so excited about the possibilities for our city. I am so confident we will be successful because all of you are here with me on this journey. Together, this city is working. This city is moving forward. And we are not turning back.”

The mayor's State of the City address, as prepared, can be found here.

Download additional information about the Eviction Diversion Program here.

Watch the video played during tonight’s address here.


Mayor Seeks Community Input on Selection of Next Richmond Police Chief


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced a plan to engage Richmond residents in the process of seeking a permanent replacement to succeed retired Richmond Police Department Chief Alfred Durham.

“Community engagement is one of the core functions of effective policing in our city,” said Mayor Stoney. “So it only makes sense that as I go about the business of finding a permanent replacement for Chief Durham, my administration seeks residents’ opinions and perspective on what they’re looking for in their next chief. We are going to conduct a national search, but we are going to listen to our residents and prioritize the input we receive in the community.”

The five-week public engagement period will commence with a series of public forums and community meetings sponsored by the City’s Department of Human Resources, as well as an online survey for residents to complete.

The meetings, which will be held throughout the city in each of its four police precinct communities are scheduled as follows:

Community Town Halls

February 6
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Southside Community Services Center
4100 Hull Street Rd.
(2nd Precinct)

February 11
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Richmond Police Department Training Academy
1202 W. Graham Rd.
(4th Precinct)

February 13
11 a.m. to noon
Sarah Jones Garland Center
2600 Nine Mile Rd.
(1st Precinct)

February 21
1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church
2709 Monument Ave.
(3rd Precinct)
  
The survey can be found here, at richmondgov.com in the City News section.

The engagement is believed to be the first time in recent city history that feedback from the community has been formally solicited by a mayor as part of the hiring process for a new police chief. The city will conduct a national search.

Below is an approximate timetable for the hiring process:

February - March – Community engagement

March 10 - April 6 – Online application posted to richmondgov.com/HumanResources

April – Review and pre-screening of applications by City Dept. of Human Resources

May – Interviews of qualified applicants; selection of finalists to be interviewed by Mayor and CAO

June – Offer extended to top finalist; selection announced by Mayor

“Chief of Police is one of the most important jobs in any city government, requiring skills that go well beyond policing itself,” said Mayor Stoney. “I’m confident that this inclusive process will help us select not just a highly qualified law enforcement professional, but also the right chief for Richmond moving forward.”



Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Next Phase of Traffic Signal Retiming Project Begins Feb. 4


~City nearing 400 retimed signalized intersections~

RICHMOND, Va – The city continues to ramp up its retiming of traffic signals.  Work begins Monday, February 4 to retime 147 more. These improvements will increase pedestrian safety on our major arterials citywide at more than 390 signalized intersections. The work during this phase includes intersections west of Belvidere (VCU, Fan, Museum District and West End).

The project is part of an initiative that began one year ago and included the retiming of 71 intersections in the Southside, 17 in the Northside, and 179 in the Downtown Area.  It is part of a comprehensive plan to deploy low cost, systemic pedestrian safety improvements at signalized intersections through 2020. These improvements include: high visibility crosswalks, accessible ramps, pedestrian countdown signals and improved signal timings.

The project aligns with the city’s participation in the Vision Zero Action Plan, which aims to reduce crashes resulting in serious injuries and death for all transportation users through updated traffic signal timings. Additional benefits of new timing plans include improving pedestrian safety and multi-modal mobility, decreased wear on motor vehicles, as well as improved gas mileage by reducing the number of stops and starts. Environmental benefits include the reduction of vehicle emissions such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds.

Richmond is working on the project in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Richmond Regional Planning Organization (RRTPO) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The city is leveraging state and federal funding sources to implement this important timing project as part of an overall $3.5 million initiative to improve pedestrian safety through funding from the FHWA and VDOT's Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), and $800,000 funded throughout the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program from RRTPO.

Due to the changes in some traffic signal operations, all transportation users are encouraged to be alert as they become accustomed to the new traffic patterns.  Each corridor takes several weeks to fine tune before the pattern is finalized.

Mayor Seeks Community Input on RPD Chief - Survey



Mayor Stoney invites the citizens of Richmond to share your opinions regarding the characteristics, knowledge, skills and abilities you would like to see in the next Police Chief.

Click here to take the 10-question online survey.



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Richmond911 Using a New Service to Help Locate 911 Calls from Mobile Devices


A new tool is now helping the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications to get fast, accurate location information from mobile devices for emergencies.

Getting the accurate location for an emergency is the top priority for 911 call-takers, and the first step to dispatching first responders. The new tool, RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse, is an online platform to help pinpoint the location when the caller is unsure or unable to provide the location or when information provided by the cell phone company based on tower location is not specific enough.

This was the case on Jan. 13, when a Richmond 911 call-taker answered a call for domestic violence but was not able to get a location from the caller immediately. The 911 supervisor was able to find the location through the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse.

“In this case, the first responders were there more quickly, because of our use of RapidSOS, rather than waiting for the caller to give the address,” said Stephen Willoughby, director of the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications. “Rather than using radio signals from the telephone and triangulating the towers to get a general idea of the location, RapidSOS asks the cell phone where it is.”

Jackie Crotts, the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications deputy director of technology, said that it is simple to use. “Essentially when the enabled device (iPhone iOS 12 or Android version 4.0 and up) calls 911, the location is sent to the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse. Our 911 emergency communications supervisors make a request for the location, using one of our automated systems,” he said.

Crotts said that the location information is only available for active calls and only for those calls coming from the 911 emergency communications centers’ area.

“It helps us better locate callers, but nothing bypasses having a smart person behind the headset to get the best location and response,” Willoughby said.

RapidSOS is a free service available to authorized 911 emergency communications centers.

“The Richmond Department of Emergency Communications is leading the way in 911 technology to improve emergency response,” said RapidSOS CEO Michael Martin. “We are thrilled to provide Richmond call-takers and dispatchers with the information they need to get citizens help quickly in an emergency, saving lives and property.”

For more information about the service, visit https://rapidsos.com/ng911clearinghouse/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFoRYuW5hps