Guardian Angels expand focus

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A national organization known for helping neighborhoods curb crime has been in Richmond for two years. The Guardian Angels are now expanding their focus to other parts of the city.

Three murders happened within three days of Christmas last year, and those volunteers want to do all they can to get at the root of this problem and help prevent some of this crimes.

Losing loved ones right before the holidays is heartbreaking especially if it can be prevented. That's why Jo White and her volunteers with Richmond Guardian Angels are teaming up with police and trying to help people in high crime areas.

"It was really bad that we had those murders," said White. "We're all really sad about that. That does tell us we need to step up our efforts and do a little more. This year, we will be putting more people on the street."

Volunteers are committed to mostly Highland Park in the north side, but they will also be walking up and down Broad street between 2nd and Belvidere to get the word out. Each time, they'll pass out fliers and talk to people about safety on the streets.

"I think it's very important that we talk to people and let them know while we're there," White noted. "In the past, they've seen us as vigilantes. That's not why we're here. We're here to help keep the peace as much as possible."

They also serve as role models and offer self defense classes for younger people to keep them off the streets and focused on a bright future.

"With the community coming together, our street patrols help because we are out there to deter crime," White added. "If they see us there they understand they should be doing more as well."

White says if more neighbors support their effort and get involved, it could play a role in reducing crime in Richmond.

Group volunteers will begin their street patrol Friday on Broad street in the same area as First Fridays.  Saturday, they'll be at Highland Park. Both days will last from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Here's more information on the Richmond Guardian Angles.