Two Richmond citizens voiced their support Tuesday for the Richmond Police Department with blue ribbons pinned above their hearts and large poster-sized signs encouraging city officials to pay police more.

Brenda Clark and Tiffany Nash sat in the front row of the Richmond City Hall Commission Chambers during an afternoon meeting of the Richmond City Commission, holding their posters. The signs displayed slogans such as “Support our police, pay them more,” and “Keep our police, pay them fair.”

After reading a series of articles published in the Richmond Register addressing the issue of low pay for RPD officers, Clark and Nash agreed they thought it was their duty as citizens to voice their support for the police.

“I am a concerned citizen,” Clark said. “I have no family, friends or relatives in any part of the police force at all. But I am self-employed. I own my own executive recruiting firm and the reason I am concerned is because I like Richmond. I want it to be a progressive place to live and work. I know as an executive recruiter that if you don’t pay people well, they will go other places. And that is what is happening here.”

Clark said she was astonished to learn that the average tenure of Richmond officers is two-and-a-half years and attributed the high turnover to low pay. She said like most citizens, she just assumed things were going well and had no idea the police were being underpaid.

“We have all this new industry coming in. We are going to need new and better policemen and to retain what we have. I think we all need to rally together and support them in any way we can. If we can build a $5 million pool, we sure should be able to pay our policemen an average salary.”

In light of the recent Virginia Tech tragedy, Nash said the need for a quality police force has become even more important to her.

“I am a citizen and my kids go to school here,” she said. “I eat and shop here. I want to make sure that if there is some sort of emergency, God forbid, if some shooter takes off like the one at Virginia Tech, that we have a very well-trained, experienced police force that knows Richmond. They need to be paid better for their sacrifice.”

The women said they will continue to wear their blue ribbons in support of the officers and will return to the next city commission meeting with more support. When the alcohol vote became an issue recently, Nash said the city responded to an outcry from citizens who voiced their opinions on the issue.

“We need to support our police officers to the same degree that all the ministers and all the people who were against the Sunday alcohol sales (did),” Nash said.

The women were not recognized by the commission during the meeting.

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