Mayor presents local roadmap for reimagining public safety at informal meeting of Richmond City Council
Click here to download the Mayor’s Roadmap for Public Safety Reform. The full visual presentation will be available here when meeting materials are posted by the city clerk.
At an informal meeting of Richmond City Council on Monday, Mayor Stoney presented his local roadmap for reimagining public safety, a plan for the restructuring and reform of city policies, procedures and practices to ensure a truly safer city for all.
The Stoney administration is pursuing a human services-centered approach to public safety, strengthening 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 Mayor Stoney. “It does not make our country, or our city, safer.”
The elements of the roadmap fall into five main buckets: policy, accountability, programs, community healing and engagement, and governance.
The Richmond Police Department (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.
The RPD has also updated their long-standing ban on chokeholds to provide greater specificity for officers.
A Civilian Review Board is generally charged with the duty of reviewing complaints about officers and recommending disciplinary action after police departments have completed their own investigations and made their own recommendations.
The mayor has established that it should be independent of the police department and representative of the Richmond community at large. To that end, he has requested that Richmond City Council play an active role in engaging constituents and drafting the legislation to create the board.
The Stoney administration has committed to hosting two community engagement meetings before the ordinance is drafted and introduced and is encouraging city council to do the same.
“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 Mayor 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.
Community Healing and Engagement:
In order to facilitate community healing and engagement and meet the commitment he made in signing Barack Obama’s Mayor Pledge to review and reform the city’s use of force policy, the mayor has founded the Task Force for Reimagining Public Safety.
The task force 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.
It will focus on making public safety recommendations that build toward equity and justice in five core areas: police policy, practices and culture, police accountability, community healing and engagement, officer training and education, and officer and community wellness.
The Stoney administration has also committed to removing the city’s monuments to the Lost Cause. The state allows municipalities to begin the removal process July 1, though the mayor has stated that he supports immediate removal.
Racial equity should be a core component of city policies and practices. Councilmembers Newbille and Robertson have worked alongside the administration to develop a racial equity strategy for the city, which includes staff training and an equity study, among other measures.
As part of this work, Mayor 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,” Mayor Stoney told 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 Mayor 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.”