RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – As the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Charlotte, North Carolina, some Richmond taxpayers are concerned that the city sent officers to assist with crowd control.
However, Richmond police said the crowd control officers, who are part of a larger group of law enforcement from all over the country, are not impacting safety in Richmond or costing the city any money.
Still, not everyone agrees they should have gone.
In fact, Richmonder John Armstrong has an issue with some RPD officers helping the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department this week handling crowd control at the Democratic convention.
“I think they need to be focusing more on what`s happening here in the city,” said Armstrong. “You got a lot of homeless people down here doing a lot of panhandling.”
However, Richmond Police Deputy Chief John Buturla said the safety and security of Richmond citizens is the department’s top priority.
While Buturla would not comment on the number of officers sent to Charlotte Saturday, citing security reasons, he said they consisted of officers trained in crowd control, including mounted police.
Buturla said Richmond’s former police chief, Rodney Monroe, now chief of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, called asking for help about 15 months ago.
“Charlotte has 1,700 officers and they needed and they needed an additional 23 to 2,500 officers, so they solicited personnel from around the country,” said Buturla.
Additionally, the deputy chief said the officers will not create a shortage of officers in crowd control unit, because he only sent a portion of them to Charlotte. What’s more, he said it would not cost Richmond taxpayers anything.
“This is actually paid for by the city of Charlotte, [who] received a $50 million grant to pay for costs associated with the convention,” said Buturla.
Buturla also said the officers did not go to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, because they were not asked. And he said the department’s crowd control unit covered the president’s inauguration four years ago — and will cover the event again in January.