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Crime

Richmond Police Chief William Smith resigns at request of Mayor Levar Stoney

Taking Smith’s place will be Major William “Jody” Blackwell, who will serve as Interim Chief. Blackwell has worked for the department for over 16 years, according to the city.

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The Richmond Police Department’s top brass has stepped down at the request of Mayor Levar Stoney. Following several recent nights of protests during which police pepper-sprayed and fired rubber bullets at protesters, the mayor called for Chief William Smith to step down.

“He has served this city with grace but we are ready to move it in a new direction,” Mayor Stoney said in a statement. “I have high expectations of the Richmond Police Department. And at a minimum I expect them to be willing to come around the table with the community to reform and reimagine public safety.”

Taking Smith’s place will be Major William “Jody” Blackwell will serve as Interim Chief. Blackwell has worked for the department for over 16 years, according to the city.

“Interim Chief Blackwell is willing and able to focus on necessary public safety reform, healing, and trust-building within the community,” Stoney continued.

The mayor went on to outline a collaborative path forward. He indicated he has spoken to Council President Newbille, and will follow up with a letter, outlining a request that City Council work with the administration, the interim chief, and the community to develop legislation to create a citizen review board.

“My hope is that City Council will be proactive in collaborating with me and community leaders in all nine of their districts to craft a citizen review board with complete community buy-in,” he said.

He also indicated he will sign the Obama Pledge for Mayors, which commits the city to reevaluating its use of force policy. Beyond the immediate changes of strengthening the Richmond Police Department’s ban on chokeholds and duty to intervene policy, that pledge includes the creation of the Richmond Task Force on Reimagining Public Safety.

The task force will bring more than 20 individuals from the activist, legal, academic, law enforcement, behavioral health and other communities together to agree on a set of actionable steps forward within 90 days of the first meeting.

“The mission of this task force will be to make public safety recommendations that build toward equity and justice. Using a restorative justice framework, we can reimagine public safety to create a truly safer city for all – meaning both the members of the community and the officers that serve the community.”

Currently, police officers are asked to respond to every type of crisis, from homelessness to mental health crises. The mayor noted that reimagining public safety in the City of Richmond must include designing an emergency response system and empowering a social safety net that meets these needs.

“We can’t expect our police officers to serve as social workers, psychologists, and juvenile trauma experts, intervening in these situations because America hasn’t properly prioritized other service providers. It does not make our country, or our city, safer.”

“One thing is clear after the past two weeks: Richmond is ready to reimagine public safety. There’s work to be done, so if you have been out on the streets, I invite you to join us at the table. I want to incorporate your experience and turn your pain into progress.”

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Crime

Moody MS 8th-grader wins spell-off to capture pandemic edition of HCPS division-wide Spelling Bee

Ananya Nanduru clinched the 2021 title in the second round by correctly spelling “graticule,” the network of latitude and longitude lines on which a map is drawn.

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Ananya Nanduru of George H. Moody Middle School won a spell-off on January 26th to repeat as Henrico County Public Schools’ Division-wide Spelling Bee champion. The eighth-grader bested Hollie Kim, an L. Douglas Wilder Middle School sixth-grader, to win the tiebreaker, held virtually. Nanduru clinched the 2021 title in the second round by correctly spelling “graticule,” the network of latitude and longitude lines on which a map is drawn.

The winner was presented with the HCPS spelling trophy at Moody Middle School Tuesday afternoon by school division representatives, including Marcie Shea, School Board vice-chair and Tuckahoe District representative, and Amy Cashwell, superintendent. Nanduru’s is the third Moody Middle School championship in as many years. That means the trophy, which resides at the winning school, will remain on display at Moody. The award was made possible by a donation from four-time Henrico spelling champion Tejas Muthusamy, a former Moody student now at Maggie Walker Governor’s School. The Henrico Education Foundation had the trophy made.

Ordinarily, spelling champions from HCPS’ 46 elementary schools and 12 middle schools gather onstage at a middle school auditorium to determine the annual champion. Because of the pandemic, this year’s 58 school champions each took an online spelling test provided by Scripps, the media company that coordinates the national bee. Each was required to complete the test within a 15-minute window. When those results were tabulated, Nanduru and Kim had identical scores, and advanced to the virtual video spell-off.

Nanduru moves on to represent Henrico County Public Schools on March 15th in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Regional Spelling Bee, which will also be held virtually. The regional winner will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is held in late May and televised by ESPN.

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Crime

RPD seeking public’s assistance in identifying man found dead near Bandy Field and U of R

At approximately 7:06 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, an unknown deceased male with no form of identification was found in the 6700 block of Three Chopt Road. No foul play is suspected.

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From Richmond Police:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the public’s help in identifying a male who was found early Sunday morning.

At approximately 7:06 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, an unknown deceased male with no form of identification was found in the 6700 block of Three Chopt Road. No foul play is suspected.

The male is described as a white male in his late teens or early twenties with hazel eyes, dark hair, and a slim build. He was wearing a tan long sleeve shirt with a distinctive design on the front of the shirt, grey sweatpants, grey shoes with green on them and had a tan backpack. Photos of the clothing are attached.

Anyone with information to assist in this investigation is asked to call Major Crimes Detective N. Reese at (804) 510-4183 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

Photos of the deceased man’s clothing and apparel are below.

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Crime

Arrest made in Arthur Ashe Boulevard hotel homicide that occurred in 2020

Marquise McCormick was incarcerated in Chesterfield County on unrelated charges. Last week, he was charged with first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in relation to the Richmond homicide.

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From Richmond Police:

Richmond Police detectives have made an arrest in last summer’s homicide on Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

Marquise McCormick was incarcerated in Chesterfield County on unrelated charges. Last week, he was charged with first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in relation to the Richmond homicide.

At approximately 1:43 a.m., Tuesday, June 2nd, RPD officers were called to the Rodeway Inn in the 3200 block of N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard for a report of a person shot. They quickly located a victim, Jermaine Stroman lying in a third floor hallway. He had been shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to contact Detective G. Bailey at (804) 646-6743 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or www.7801000.com or the P3 smartphone app. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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