RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham met with nearly 200 residents of Richmond’s third police precinct Thursday, to hold a town hall and get feedback on how officers can better serve their community.
While, many residents thanked the officers for their work, there were some big concerns ranging from panhandling, homelessness in the city, and police response time.
One of the major taking points during the town hall was the city’s personnel shortage during a time of increased violence in the city. Chief Durham explained his concerns due to the city’s budget constraints.
“We had some challenges,” he said. “I’m down 44 officers to be exact.”
Durham said most of his officers are out there by themselves without partners. That is something that could very dangerous, especially since city murders are up to 23 so far this year.
“We’re not doubled up. That’s what I’m concerned about, getting that call at night. January 2015 to January 2016 we had four of your police officers shot in the line of duty, by God’s grace we weren’t going to a funeral. That’s what I’m concerned about.”
Durham called on the community to help officers by communicating and helping get criminals and guns off the street.
“We need your help, I’m not too proud to beg as the song goes, because that’s what we need.”
Chief Durham also talked about the heroin and opioid epidemic in Virginia and across the county.
“Last year at this time we have five or six overdose deaths. Today its 20,” he explained. “On the overdoses side itself, were are up to 144 overdoses compared to about 60 something.”
Richmond Police Deputy Chief Steve Drew said the department was very impressed with the turnout at the meeting and the department has learned a lot about citizens’ concerns and how they can work together to make the city safer.
“We’ll take all these things back, we'll go through them at our staff meetings, and pass them down to out precincts and just see what we can do, to do better and make the quality of life for the citizens of Richmond safer,” said Deputy Chief Drew.
Thursday’s meeting was the fourth and final scheduled town hall meeting.