RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The Hispanic community in one Richmond neighborhood shares a dark secret. Many who live there are often the target of robbery and the criminals end up walking free. Lieutenant Angela Greene knows the story all too well.
"The Latinos seem to be the major target or victims of individual robberies because they tend to carry large amounts of cash on them because they are fearful of using our banking system - probably because of their status," said Lt. Angela Greene with the Richmond Police Department. "Many of them are here illegally."
Lieutenant Greene is working hard to build trust between the residents here and the police officers who patrol the area. While most neighbors we talked with didn't speak a word of English they were well aware of the crime that plagues the neighborhood they call home.
Rudy Navarro says he's lived in this area for 12 years and sees crime at all times. So have some of the other resident we spoke with who tells us they call police when crime happens. Criminal prosecutor Cynthia Micklem has found that most Latino crime victims do not go through with court proceedings and the offender is released back into the public.
"We work together in trying to convince people to come forward and participate throughout the entire court system in prosecuting crimes," said Micklem.
Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants is big news in the Spanish community. A language barrier makes it easy to confuse news there with the reality here in Richmond. Victims of crime fear deportation but Lieutenant Greene wants them to know there's no need to worry.
"We never ask their legal status," said Lt. Greene. "It does not matter to us. The only thing that matters to us is that we find these offenders and we take them off the streets."
"By helping people come forward we prevent more violent crimes from happening and more people from becoming victims," said Micklem.
Both the prosecutor and lieutenant from this area in Richmond are using National Night Out to build trust. They want their neighbors to feel safe participating in the judicial system to help make Richmond safer.