Although Richmond may have one of the nation’s highest ratios of public safety employees to residents, the city’s police force is far from fully staffed.The Richmond Police Department has 676 sworn officers of a possible 750, says RPD spokeswoman Dionne Waugh. Compared to Henrico County (610 of a possible 613) and Chesterfield County (498 of a possible 522), the city’s numbers are lagging. Councilwoman Reva Trammell (8th district), says that the pay for the city’s officers isn’t enough for the demands placed on them.
“All I’m hearing is that the police are overworked and underpaid, and they’re disgusted and I am, too,” says Trammell, who heads the City Council public safety committee. “We’re not treating them like we should.”
The starting salary for an RPD recruit is $36,500. In Chesterfield, it’s $40,000. In Ashland, a recruit’s starting salary is nearly $41,000 and in Henrico, it’s $43,000. Trammell says starting pay for officers needs to be higher and bonuses and raises need to be scheduled more frequently to make RPD more competitive with Chesterfield and Henrico when hiring new officers.
“You’re not going to fill those slots unless you pay them more money,” Trammell says. “And then we wonder why they’re leaving? People need to wake up and realize we need our police officers.”
An additional 28 officers will graduate from RPD’s police academy on Aug. 21, and a new recruit class of 30 begins Aug. 11, Waugh says. The department would not comment further on the matter or whether a less than fully staffed department affects its ability to police the city.
Through July 30, the number of incidents RPD responded to decreased 2.9 percent (about 600 incidents) compared with the same period last year, according to RPD’s crime database. Homicides, burglaries and cases of theft have increased, while sex offenses, robberies, assaults and cases of vehicle theft have decreased.
In terms of homicides, Trammell’s district has been hit the hardest. Seven of the 24 homicides in the city have occurred in her district.