Police making handful more arrests under "zero tolerance"

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you head to Shockoe Bottom on a Friday night, you'll probably see plenty of police officers.

Mayor Dwight Jones has issued a zero tolerance policy for police, but the number of arrests under the new policy might surprise you.

Before the Mayor's zero tolerance policy went into effect, Richmond Police arrested nearly three people every weekend in Shockoe Bottom. After the policy went into effect, the number of people arrested has gone up, but not by much.

Jones said he had had enough after 20-year-old Justin Morgan was gunned down in front of Have a Nice Day Cafe in October.

"We are establishing a zero tolerance," Jones said.  "We want you to know that if you jaywalk, if you break a law, if you have a gun, you don't want to be down here because you're going to have an encounter with the Richmond city police."

So far no one has been arrested for jaywalking but police have had a strong presence since then in Shockoe Bottom.

We got a hold of arrest records through The Freedom of Information Act. The records show about a dozen people have been arrested the past few weekends for a variety of crimes ranging from being drunk in public, to felony assault.

But a look at the number of arrests in Shockoe Bottom shows an increase of only about one additional arrest each weekend since the mayor issued his zero tolerance policy.

We contacted both Richmond Police and the mayor's office to see how they feel the policy is going. Police would only say they do not discuss tactical operations and our messages to the mayor's office went unreturned.

Tim McLarky has lived in Shockoe Bottom for two years. He says he's noticed more police patrolling of late.

"They were always here," he said.  "They was always a bit of a police presence anyways so it hasn't changed that much."

He thinks some people are behaving themselves with officers nearby.

"It changes how people act when they see them around," he said.  "Stuff is less likely to happen."

Increasing the police presence isn't the only thing the mayor has been looking to do to cut down on violence. He's also talked about working with the Virginia ABC Board to tighten the nightclub ordinance.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.