RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - People who live in the Church Hill area say they feel safe, unlike decades ago when their community wasn't as friendly.
Police are reporting that Church Hill has the largest reduction in major crime throughout the entire city for the beginning part of the year. Violent crimes in the area are down 21 percent compared to this time last year. In fact, neighbors helped investigators arrest five suspects accused of trying to rob people on the street.
Officers say the Church Hill community has taken a major role in uplifting their neighborhood.
Several decades ago, Libby Hill Park wouldn't be the ideal spot to spend on a Sunday, let alone have a wedding. Oliver McCutchen and Kristin Manns, who work nearby, are tying the knot there next weekend.
"When we tell people (about getting married in Libby Hill Park), they were like, 'Church Hill?'... I'm like, 'No! It's different now!'" says Manns.
Different meaning safer. The drop is challenging its once-held stigma of a bad area.
"I've lived in Church Hill since 1986. When I first moved up here, it was a combat zone. It's really improved since then," says Mark Lindsey.
"This has been kind of a hit or miss place to live for the last 13 years. But I'd say over the last three years, it's been really top notch," says Sam Worthington, who lives in the neighborhood with his wife and young son.
A neighborhood watch of about 500 residents adds to the constant eye Church Hill seems to keep over its streets. Residents also say more people have made this community their permanent home.
"I think gentrification probably took over a whole lot of it, raised all of the housing value up to a point where there are not a whole lot of renters anymore," says Worthington.
The nearby area has also seen a drop in crime, including the neighborhoods Whitcomb Court, Fairfield Court, Fairmont and Fairfield.