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A father in yellow T-shirt, black cap turned backward and Adidas sweat pants crouches next to a stroller with a child of about a year old, thin black hair and an orange jacket.

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)

A woman smiles for the camera in a parking lot, wearing a blue jacket and gray sweat pants.

A man in a long white T-shirt and blue pants stands on a street corner, holding black jacket.

“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)

A woman with shoulder-length pink hair sits on a bench outside in black yoga pants, gray jacket, high gray socks, brown laceup boots, with a brown dog under the bench.

A man with curly dark hair and a slight beard and mustache stands outside holing a pink drink and a bag stained with grease.

“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 )

A youngman in short dark hair, parted in the middle smiles for the camera in a field, wearing a black T-shirt.

A woman in short dark hair stands in front of a Rosie the Riveter museum sign, wearing a blue vest with an insignia on it.

“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)

A woman with blond punky hair, big hoop earings and wearing a black sweatshirt over a colorful skirt and torn pants, stands outside "Mom & Pop Art Shop" with seven books in her hand.
A woman with pulled back dark hair and glasses, gray jacket, sits at a table with coffee and a laptop.

“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)

A man in a safari hat and green sweater sits with arms folded on a chair outside.

People of Richmond: Why do you think teens are so sad?

1 Comment

  1. Crystal Polidore . on December 6, 2023 at 5:25 pm

    I think those positions should be filled with more officers, and community social workers, like people who have degrees in psychology and things like that so we can represent the community and help the police staff because I have a woman that had a stroke and I am now riding on my scooter but I still have my brain to help the community of Richmond improves.

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