September 30, 2022

Despite criticism, Richmond police chief backs community conversation format

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith held his second in a series of meetings planned to build a stronger relationship with residents Thursday evening.

The meetings come in the wake of controversy surrounding the claim that Richmond police stopped a July 4 mass shooting in Dogwood Dell.

“We are open and transparent and are here to have a conversation,” Chief Smith said.

For the second night in a row, residents were unable to ask the chief a question directly. Instead, they had to write it down to be read aloud.

This format has raised concerns among some residents.

“It was a little disappointing. We didn’t expect to have to write questions on cards and we weren’t allowed to ask live questions,” said Paige Quietler, president of the Carillon Civic Association.

CBS 6 asked Chief Smith why they chose this format and continued to use it following feedback from the Wednesday night session. Smith said note cards were used to answer everyone’s questions.

“We know that in these forms there can be strong personalities that can take over and some of the questions cannot be answered. That was the purpose of the cards to make sure everyone had a chance to have their question answered,” Smith said.

More than half of the questions asked during Thursday night’s conversation focused on Smith’s claims that the department had shut down a July 4e mass shooting plot at Dogwood Dell, despite no publicly available evidence of a specific location.

When a person’s written question asked the leader why he went on TV to hold a press conference, he responded by saying he answered those questions over and over again. He added that the department has responded to numerous FOIAs and he said much of what they said was true and accurate.

However, although the leader responded to written questions, many felt they were left unanswered.

Quitler said she came looking for information on how they were going to improve communication. Not only that they improve communication. She had the impression that he touched on points that people were asking questions about, but that he didn’t go into details.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch who attended, she thought there was nothing new shared.

“I think we all clearly wanted answers,” Lynch said.

The chief also addressed questions about recruiting, pay, traffic and other crimes, all before the Third Precinct Captain shared his successes in stopping crime and the types of offenses the borough sees,

The leader thinks these types of conversations are just the beginning. communicate. He said they do what they can to communicate, which he says is an important part of building trust.

“I look forward to the many follow-up conversations that will come out of this session,” he said.

Three more conversations with the leader will take place in the other quarters.

  • Wednesday, September 21 – For 1st District residents of MLK Middle School, 1000 Mosby St.
  • Thursday, September 22 – For residents of the 4th District Barack Obama Elementary School, 3101 Fendall Ave.
  • Tuesday, September 27. Town hall telephone conversation


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