‘I was kind of shocked’: Richmond reacts to police chief stepping down

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith resigned from his role on Tuesday, members of the community want to know why he decided to step back.

“I would like to know what happened, why he decided to resign, or if he was asked to resign,” Mary Cornell, who lives in Richmond, said.

No official reason has been given as of Tuesday night, but even residents who were upset with how Smith handled things over the last several months said they were surprised he stepped down.

“I was kinda shocked,” Paige Quilter, who lives just two blocks from Dogwood Dell, said. “I know that there were certain factions of the police department that weren’t happy. I know there were some city council people that were trying to get him to resign, but I didn’t think that it was going to happen.”

Quilter said she couldn’t help but think the fallout of the alleged mass shooting plot earlier this summer played a role.

“Oh, I defiantly think so. I mean the amount of anxiety and the amount of angst that went through this community,” Quilter said. “You know, I was just telling a neighbor every house on this street we were all up there, and if it had happened, ten to twenty percent of our neighborhood could have been wiped out.”

She asks whoever the next police chief may be looking at hiring more police officers to protect the city and be more transparent with the community.

“Don’t play politics, don’t be a puppet for the people in city hall,” Quilter said. “Do what’s right for the citizens of this community and for Richmond.”

Major Richard “Rick” Edwards has been temporarily appointed as acting police chief. Smith will be on administrative leave until Dec. 31.

A nationwide search for a permanent replacement will begin soon.