People of Richmond: Should the city fill its many vacant police positions or just cut them?
on December 6, 2023
“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity.
Q: Do you think the Richmond Police Department should fill its 23 vacancies or eliminate those positions?
“Based on my own personal experience, of course, I don’t know if I want all 23 filled. I feel like we could have a certain percentage filled and then possibly divert money toward more mental health services or services to help the community, or for non-violent offenses. I definitely would like to see that happen.” (David Avila-Silver, elementary school teacher, pictured above with son Damian)
“The more officers the better. You can never have too many officers to help. If there’s more officers to cover this area, that area, they’d have stations or give officers working extra shifts a break too,” (Nancy Smith, paraprofessional educator)
“Well, you know, Richmond has problems in terms of economics, so by filling those vacancies, does it make us more safe? Not sure. I think that Richmond needs to come up with some other ideas on how they can best serve the public because if you put 23 more cops out there, is that going to make the divide different?” (Joseph Barry)
“I don’t have the data in front of me, but I think probably the money is best spent elsewhere. I think community resources are always better than spending on police — investing in education, community centers, public spaces. We have a lot of great undeveloped waterfront out here that could totally be used for residents and give people a place to go.” (Christine Anderson, ship agent)
“I think they should fill those positions because it’s better to be safe than sorry. I have issues with my job where people steal bicycles or they break into cars. We call the police and they never show up.” (Ludwin Valladares, plant manager)
“I think they should fill the vacancies, even though I haven’t experienced any crimes. I’ve lived in the Marina Bay neighborhood since 2010. This community is separate and a lot different than the other neighborhoods in Richmond. It’s pretty safe.” (Sebastian Le )
“I’m of two minds, I, like many people have seen the videos of police abusing their positions, and I believe there has to be more oversight and even better hiring practices. That said, I’m a homeowner, and I can see how many cars and businesses are being broken into and vandalized, and that really affects our main street. … So in one sense, I believe we need better candidates to fill those positions, but I do believe we need some of those positions filled because as it is now, if you call the police, they don’t come.” (Simone Adair, veteran and photographer)
“There’s not enough help out there. Especially when people call, they don’t get here fast enough. It’s always kind of the same person that comes if I called because of an issue. So I would say, yes, fill those spaces.” (Kelly Nicolaisen small business owner)
“I would love to say, ‘Yeah, it’d be great to put up a community garden.’ But first priority is safety. And, unfortunately, there’s just not enough funding for it.” (Joleen Esposito)
“I haven’t experienced crimes, but they should fill the vacancies, and they should be closely supervised.” Leif Ortegren)
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