12 INVESTIGATES: Six month murder total is record low

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond is setting records. NBC12 has learned the 14 homicides in the first six months of the year, is the lowest number since police started keeping those statistics.

The 14 homicides show a very different picture than what the city saw in the mid-90s when Richmond was known as the murder capital.

For years, the numbers kept going up. Dozens of bodies would drop in Richmond in the first 6 months of every year. In 1980, there were 24 of them. 1994 was the peak, with 76 murders in the first six months and then the total went down to fifty in 2005. This year the stats hit a record low at 14 homicides from January 1 through June 30.

John Ellis has seen it all. We showed the lifetime Richmonder the statistics.

"I love these numbers, the low numbers, a whole lot more than I do these up here, Ellis described.

He says things look a little different nowadays and when it comes to the murder rate, he feels safe.

Richmond Police Major Steve Drew has also been in the city for decades. He credits the strategies the department has employed to get to that record low.

"Known offenders that we know are problems in the community, we get that from our officers that work the streets every day, community members that tell us 'these individuals are a problem,' we know certain locations in the city that we have higher crime rates," Drew listed.

The targeted approach can be proactive.

"Whether it starts with trespassing or prostitution or traffic enforcement, what are the issues now that we respond to now to prevent them from escalating," Major Drew explained.

Much of that information comes from the community. That's where Ellis says Richmonders have to step up.

"Everybody's got to get involved," he added. "We got to look out for each other. I don't care about race or nationality or nothing. We are all people that live in the United States, the City of Richmond, and we need to protect ourselves."

Police still need help from the community in solving three of the 14 homicides from the first six months of the year. If you know anything, call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

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