As new Richmond PD leadership is quickly decided, newspaper ad for new chief creates confusion

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Just a day after we met Richmond’s new police chief Gerald Smith, the Times-Dispatch printed an advertisement for the position.

“Vacancy Announcement,” the ad states in large lettering. It says the city is recruiting for a new chief and will be reviewing applications at the end of July.

It’s just one example of how quickly things have developed since Will Smith resigned on June 16. At that time, our sister-station WRIC asked Mayor Levar Stoney how and when he will find Richmond’s next chief.

“There is no time line. We will do a national search eventually,” the mayor said.

Clearly, the nationwide search didn’t take long. On Saturday, Stoney introduced new police chief, Gerald Smith, who is from North Carolina.

The next morning, the ad appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch announcing the search for a new police chief.

James Nolan, a spokesperson for Stoney, said the advertisement was submitted June 25 by the city’s human resources department and that the city “didn’t get the chance to pull the ad before it was published” on Sunday.

“I saw the ad on an Instagram story at a discussion table last night and there was a lot of confusion as to what the ad meant,” said Zach Archibald, a long time Richmond resident and business owner. He recently moved to Henrico County.

Gerald Smith is RPD’s second leader since Will Smith’s resignation. William “Jody” Blackwell held the position of interim chief for just 11 days prior. Nolan cited the ongoing unrest in Richmond for the reason behind Smith’s sudden appointment.

“In an ideal world, the mayor would have liked to have extended and expanded the hiring process over a longer period of time, but given the ongoing unrest in the city, the Mayor thought it was important to bring in a proven leader, sooner rather than later,  who could guide the department through the reforms we know are needed today and work alongside the community in reimagining public safety into the future.

It’s clear that the community wants a reform-minded Chief, and he found that in Chief Gerald Smith.  We’re very happy Chief Smith will be on the job July 1, and the mayor believes he is the right leader at the right time for RPD and the City of Richmond.”

JAMES NOLAN, SPOKESMAN FOR RICHMOND MAYOR LEVAR STONEY

“It’s actually mind-boggling to know that there has not been one person in that position to fulfill it for a longer period of time,” Ashley Kelly, a southside Richmond resident, said. “I just really want to see a major change in the community.”

She and Archibald say they hope new leadership will change the city for the better.

“The track record of the local governance has not been one that has brought every citizen of Richmond the same opportunities. I’m saying at this moment in time, it’s our chance to declare that we will,” Archibald said.

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