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Four Richmond Police Officers are to be terminated from the Richmond Police Department, the City Manager's office said in a statement on Monday. Photo by Grace Oyenubi.

Police review commission weighs hiring, murders and access to public information

on November 21, 2019

Hiring, homicides, and public access to information on police investigations took center stage as Richmond’s Community Police Review Commission heard from both Interim Police Chief Bisa French and Police Officer Association (POA) President Ben Therriault on November 6.

Six closed-circuit television, video surveillance professionals have resigned from the department, Interim Chief French told the commission.  This comes as the department is already facing an employment shortfall with 10 officers planning to resign or retire by the end of the year, according to the department.

“If we don’t remain competitive, we’ll continue to lose people,” French said. Previously, the department’s leaders have pointed out the department finds it hard to compete with salary and benefit packages offered by agencies like BART.

French expressed concern about the number of homicides committed in the city. She said that there have been six homicides during the five weeks preceding her last report to the commission, stating that this was “unusual.”

“This brings our homicide count to 17 for the year. Sixteen if you don’t include the officer involved shooting,” French said.

Following French’s report, Therriault, the union president, discussed SB 1421, the California law that allows the release of police internal affairs investigations to the public. He said he didn’t want the commission to get absorbed with reviewing what the police did every second of the day, to see whether, as he put it,  they “shined their shoes or not.”  Rather, he urged the commission to stay focused on the more important issues facing the Richmond community.

“I could understand the need to change a few things and maybe expand what the commission looks into and maybe the sexual… assault and stuff, and maybe that will be appropriate…” Therriault said. “Stay focused on Richmond…. That’s what keeps this board legitimate and I don’t want to see you lose that.”

The meeting adjourned after votes were cast to keep David Brown as the chair and Yenny Garcia as the vice-chair of the Community Police Review Commission.

The commission’s next meeting will be held on December 4 at 7 p.m. in the basement of the Richmond City Hall.

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