RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Violent crime in Richmond is up by four percent, according to Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham, during a briefing on crime trends in the city on Friday. Durham says gun violence is also up, with 132 shootings so far this year, compared to 105 during the same time period, in 2016.
"The other troubling and disturbing fact is that we have a lot of our young kids getting shot in the city," said Durham.
So far, 14 juveniles have been injured by gunshots this year. Four have also been killed.
The city's crime is largely centered in its public housing communities, Durham says he continues to focus the department's efforts. Both Durham and Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring said too many victims would rather retaliate than help police nab a suspect, making solving and prosecuting crimes, sometimes impossible.
"This phenomenon of lack of cooperation is baffling to us," said Herring.
Durham also called out what he describes as leniency by city judges. He says too many suspects are getting let off on bond, only to commit more crimes.
"We need to look at the criminal justice system. Our officers are making arrests, but a lot of folks are being released on bond, only to re-offend. That is our challenge. That is our frustration," said Durham.
Despite the spike in crime, Durham says Richmond is still maintaining the lowest amount of violent crime in 45 years. Durham is planning to assign more officers walking beats in the public housing communities.
"It affords for accountability, but most importantly, relationship building, partnership building," continued Durham.
RPD is also slated to launch gunshot detection system throughout the city, and the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority more cameras are going up in public housing areas like Mosby Court, where two teens lost their lives in a double shooting in March.
Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring is pushing a resurgence of Project Exile, which gives serious prison time to criminals caught with guns. However, Herring says the initiative may have to change from years past. He says more crimes today in Richmond are fueled by arguments as opposed to drugs. It's easier for officers to target a drug dealer who likely has a gun, as opposed to someone out for revenge.
"So, the use of exile this time around is going to be different. It may be more challenging, but we're hoping that it is none the less effective," said Herring.
Herring also wants to do a root analysis of what's causing crime to continually fester in the city's low poverty areas.
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