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Richmond community rallies to reduce police budget

A year ago, Richmond residents called on the city to defund its police department — and reallocate money to community resources.

Now, the city council is just weeks away from voting on the city’s budget for the next fiscal year.

As it stands, the police department makes up close to 40% of the city’s budget.

Community leaders and organizers rallying outside of city hall Saturday say that’s too much.

“Our policing systems are flawed and broken,” said Safe Return Project Adey Teshager.

The city’s reimagining public safety community task force has adjusted its latest recommendations to the council, reducing its initial proposal to reallocate 10.3 million dollars from the police department to its most recent suggestion of 6.3 million dollars in cuts.

“I do believe that the police agency is the correct agency to take the money from,” Teshager said.

“When the police came out, ‘we’re going to have to reduce 35 officers,’ we heard the community saying that, you know, we need the police to solve crimes. we need police to investigate. we need police for this, and we heard the community. that’s why we made the adjustment to our recommendation to support that,” Task Force and Commission member Randy Joseph said.

Task force member and chair of the community police review commission Randy Joseph and councilmember Mevlin Willis want more money invested in community programs addressing gun violence prevention, mental health, homelessness and youth employment.

“I don’t want to just see investment go to policing our communities. I also want to invest in the community itself,” Willis added.

Philippe Djegal

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