After the deadliest month Richmond has seen in years, police officers swarmed the South Side Friday. The Richmond Police Department came in with state and federal agencies serving warrants, searching homes and looking for fugitives.
This was also somewhat of a public relations mission. The crime sweep covered Hillside Court, Oak Grove and Blackwell, where the majority of September's eleven homicides went down. Friday, police sent a message with two very different target audiences.
A convoy headed to Hillside Court to combat fear.
"You be afraid you're gonna get shot every time you come out the house," said one woman who was too afraid to reveal her identity.
She and a friend stopped to watch as RPD, probation and parole, FBI, DEA and ATF took over the neighborhood.
Some residents told us it's about time, that these crime sweeps should've already been in place in an area plagued by violence.
"You can't wait until somebody gets killed or a child gets shot to try and change things something should change before it happen," the woman told us.
Major Steve Drew, who headed up the operation, says he gets that.
"The community told us they're concerned and they're frustrated and they should be and that's exactly why we're here and that's why we're going to stay," he said.
Drew explained it's too early to tell if Friday's search warrants and possible arrests could be connected to the killings, but "bad guys" beware.
"We talk to everybody about high profile cases, whether it's a property crimes arrest or a drug arrest, what have you," he added. "We're going to ask anyone we come in contact with: 'do you know anything about the crimes that occurred in this neighborhood.'"
In the next three months, Richmond Police will continue these missions, some covert and some highly visible.
"All you're seeing today is one piece of a puzzle that's going to be used to put together to reduce the violent crime that we've seen in September," he maintained.
That's already helping to change some minds. The woman told us it will help her sleep better at night, especially knowing her niece and nephew, who are also Hillside Court residents, are going to be ok.
This is the first of about six or seven missions through the end of the year. Police will regroup then to see if more attention is needed.
Similar operations targeted the east end last year. Police say they were successful and they're hoping to see the same thing in south side.
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