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City council moves forward on resolution to reallocate police funds

Updated: Jul. 16, 2020 at 6:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Defunding the police, or rather, re-allocating police funds, has become a controversial topic all around the country - but now even at Richmond City Council meetings.

Members of the Richmond Finance Comittee reviewed a resolution introduced by Councilman Mike Jones and Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch, that requests “the police department to develop recommendations on how they better support the holistic goals of practicing towards a more trauma-informed lens,” according to the Councilwoman. It asks for parts of the Richmond Police Department budget to go towards city departments that deal with mental health, substance abuse, and other similar programs.

Sixty-six people submitted comments supporting the resolution, and two dozen got in on the virtual meeting, including Princess Blanding, the sister of Marcus David Peters.

“We wouldn’t have civil unrest if we had true leadership in the City of Richmond to address these concerns on the front-end to not have Black and Brown lives to continue to be unjustly harassed and taken,0 from those who are set up in positions to service and protect us,” Blanding said.

New Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith did get a chance to defend his department, mentioning that for most calls, police don’t fully know the gravity of the situation they’re dealing with before they arrive. He mentioned, as an example, calls “in which there’s a disturbance and we discover that someone is a long-form drug user.”

But despite the overwhelming support from citizens, some council members did bring up concerns about the resolution going into action in the current fiscal year. Councilwoman Kristen Nye Larson expressed worry over moving the money around during a fiscal year that is already underway.

“Moving money to move money is not something I can get behind,” she said.

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson also chimed in with concerns.

“The budget process is extremely complex and it requires some very critical decision as to where we place money and where we do not place money,” she said.

But ultimately, the resolution was pushed forward, with the Committee requesting that Richmond Police present to them an itemized breakdown of their budget by October 1st.

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