Crime prevention "Operation Rolling Thunder" hailed as success

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Violent crimes went way down last month in Richmond and local police are crediting a new program that involves other state law enforcement agencies.

Local law enforcement agencies are working together to tackle crime.  It's called "Operation Rolling Thunder."

It's a pretty catchy name but authorities hope the new program catches more criminals. Richmond was the guinea pig for this new initiative.

Richmond Police and state law enforcement teamed up and targeted robberies. Troopers and officers rode together and tried to increase their visibility in high crime area.

The goal was to cut robbery cases by 20 percent, but Assistant Richmond Police Chief David McCoy says robberies actually went down by 34 percent.

"Commercial robberies dropped dramatically, highway robberies dropped dramatically," he said.  "We're very pleased with those results."

State and local law enforcement hope the success of Operation Rolling Thunder in Richmond will continue with gang violence. That's the next area of crime they're looking to tackle.

Marla Decker is the Secretary of Public Safety. She says gangs are a unique problem for police.

"They don't respect jurisdictional boundaries, they infiltrate the schools," she said.  "They destroy communities if you allow them to take root and take over."

So now state law enforcement officers will be traveling the state, getting input from agencies throughout the commonwealth on how to get gangs out of Virginia.

Law enforcement officials say gangs work differently in every community, so local businesses and churches will be asked for their input on how to handle gang violence.

Law enforcement officials say tight state and local budgets got the ball rolling on Operation Rolling Thunder. They say they need to share resources now more than ever with limited money available.

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