Hicks says his comments defending Parker in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article Aug. 14 were taken out of context and did not express his disagreement with the statements made by the chief.
The article is an account of remarks Parker made during a call broadcast on Michael Graham’s afternoon radio program on WRVA 1140-AM, in which Graham lambasted the police, essentially, for not doing their jobs.
Parker, on his way back from Officer Douglas E. Wendel’s funeral, remarked: “Every community gets the type of law enforcement they deserve,” referencing the gist of a comment once made by former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
In a subsequent interview with the Times-Dispatch, Parker explained his statement: “My point was that it’s important that we understand the importance of working together to try to make a difference.” He added that the causes of crime are myriad and require a complex, coordinated response.
Hicks says that’s posturing. Solving the crime problem requires more than building partnerships, he says. It requires leadership, too, which Hicks suggests is lacking. Parker hasn’t flexed his muscle to get money and resources from the city, and poorly handles criticism of police, Hicks says. “Why not holler at the city manager,” he asks, about the long and persistent problem of substantial police vacancies?
Parker declines to comment, but police spokeswoman Jennifer Reilly says Parker has led an aggressive recruitment campaign in which 900 contacts have been made and more than 100 applications have been received. There are about 50 police vacancies. “There are two recruitment classes going through as we speak,” she says, “and we’ve hit college campuses.”
Michele Quander-Collins, a spokeswoman for City Manager Calvin Jamison, also pointed to aggressive ad campaigns for officers in various print, TV and radio media.
Even so, Hicks is dubious that police — or the people of Richmond — are going to get what they need to help curb crime.
“We have detectives working five or six homicides and robberies on top of that,” he says. “It’s not fair to give a free ride to the administration for their inadequacies.” — Brandon Walters
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