Police morale is reportedly plummeting in Richmond.
Virginia’s capital city should have a police force of 750. Its headcount is currently below 600.
Resigning officers have cited low pay and low moral, thanks to criticism and attacks by local politicians.
CBS 6 Richmond reports on the case of Brenda Ruiz, a three year veteran of the department, whose is leaving for greener pastures in the suburbs. So far this year, 102 Richmond Police Department officers have resigned, retired or transferred to another department.
Rookie officers in Richmond earn $43,000 as a starting salary as a recruit. The salary increases to $44,000 after Police Academy graduation. In Henrico, starting police salary is $51,913.
Ruiz said she would earn about $8,000 more just by working a few miles away.
But for her, it was not all about take-home pay. It was also about respect, or what she perceived as a lack of respect coming from local politicians.
“At least two of the city council members made us look like the bad guys [amid police actions during the 2020 social unrest in Richmond that included the police teargassing of peaceful protesters near the Lee monument],” she said. “The mayor came out and said some things that officers didn’t agree with, he was cornered in a meeting and he said something different. It was on the media. A lot of the time our command staff has their hands tied and they can’t do much for us.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) says the city is working to increase its officers’ salaries and maintains that he’s never “supported Defund the Police.”