In a letter to city leaders, Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown says new equipment and and specialized training is needed to protect his officers against the potential for ambushes and other attacks, following the recent killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
The chief said officers are patrolling in pairs and added the department is “looking to acquire additional protection for officers in the field in the form of ballistic blankets and additional portable ballistic shields that can be useful in ambush or downed-officer rescue situations.”
Brown made the statement in a letter containing several updates regarding the department to City Manager Bill Lindsay, Mayor Tom Butt and Richmond City Council.
The department also plans to hold a patrol rifle course to certify additional officers to deploy long guns, which the police department already have, Brown wrote.
The killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge are “every working cop’s worst nightmare,” Brown said.
“We will continue to explore other ways to help keep officers safe in the new threat environment, including unmanned aerial observation platforms and a rescue vehicle – and of course new funding sources to support such officer safety and wellness efforts (Pillar 6, President’s 21st Century Policing Report),” he said in the letter.
Despite the threat of attacks on officers, Brown said police in general need to do better work in communities of color.
“We’ve made progress over the past decade on improving police and community relationships in Richmond, in part by using a mix of strategies and technology enablers built on a foundation of purposeful engagement and empowerment at the neighborhood level,” Brown said. ” It’s something that we’re proud of, that we value, and that we are committed to protecting and expanding.”