RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown resigned Tuesday amid ethical questions about his professional relationship with city finance manager Belinda Brown, his wife, and a landslide vote of no confidence from the rank and file officers of the Richmond Police Officers Association.
Ben Therriault, association president, announced the results of the Labor Day weekend vote last week at a meeting of the Community Police Review Commission, adding that he would return to Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting with damning information about Brown.
During opening remarks from Interim City Manager Steve Falk, prior to the public comment period in which Therriault addressed the council, Falk announced that Brown had tendered his resignation.
“I have been in conversation with Chief Brown and the first thing I did was thank him for 35 years of distinguished service to the city, where he accepted a noble and difficult assignment, and he did it with grace,” Falk said.
“Chief Brown informed me today that he will no longer serve as the police chief for the city of Richmond.”
“This is all I am at liberty to disclose at this time regarding Chief Brown and no further information will be forthcoming,” Falk said, adding only that he did not intend to initiate a search for a permanent police chief during his time at the city’s helm, which is slated to end Jan. 15, 2020.
Assistant Police Chief Bisa French has been appointed as the interim chief, marking the first point in Richmond city history that a black woman has served as top cop. She did not comment on the matter during the City Council meeting.
According to the city’s website, French has served with the Richmond Police Department since 1998. She was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2006. She is a mother of three and holds a master’s degree in human resource management.
Meanwhile, the questions about Allwyn Brown’s work expenses, and whether improper expenditures may have been approved by his wife, remain unanswered.
Belinda Brown is responsible for maintaining “financing, auditing, and record keeping standards to ensure sound fiduciary practices,” according to the city website, which also says that Belinda Brown is still serving in her official capacity as finance director.
Therriault said the matter was brought to his attention several months ago by a member of the public but former city manager Carlos Martinez, who was fired in late July by a split vote of the City Council amid allegations of unfair labor practices, declined to do anything about it.
“Someone came in and claimed that the public trust has been broken,” Therriault said.
“You don’t get a pass as the police chief,” he added. “That needs to be looked into.”
Therriault filed an expansive Public Records Act request July 18 for related documents to test that citizen’s hypothesis. He says the city has responded, but has not yet provided the documents requested.
“When we get (them) we will provide (them) to any investigative journalist that wants it,” Therriault said.
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