RVA community weighs in on $700K grant to fight crime

RVA community weighs in on $700K grant to fight crime

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The community is chiming in on a new plan by Attorney General Mark Herring to give police more resources to keep you safe.

Herring announced a $700,000 federal grant to step up patrols across Richmond and create more community policing programs. The community says after all of the violence they have seen across the metro - who wouldn't welcome a focused effort to get rid of all of this crime?

Every time a new customer sits in his his chair, barber Alonzo Bates hears personal stories from the streets.

"It always begins in the barber shop," said Bates. "If you don't know better, it's hard to do better."

A whirlwind of violence has spread across the Richmond metro in recent weeks. The youngest victim - a 1-year-old shot and killed when someone opened fire at a home on Fayette Avenue.

"As Attorney General, there are times when you're called upon to console family members who have lost a loved one to gun violence," said Herring.

Herring announcing Friday a new effort to cut down on gang activity and gun violence in Richmond. The $700,000 federal grant will help police target public housing communities and create outreach and crime prevention programs.

"It's so important to be able to look them in the eye and tell them you're doing everything you can to make sure it doesn't happen to another family in Richmond or anywhere in Virginia," said Herring.

"Y'all need to learn how to channel that energy for the greater good," said former inmate Jerry Lee, who served 23 years in prison. Now he's out encouraging others to avoid the path he took.

"You'll wind up losing your life in two ways - either out there in the street, or in prison," said Lee.

Lee shared the message at the barber shop, where young men can hear it. Barbers like Bates hope the attorney general's efforts will make a noticeable difference.

"Take all of those funds that they're allocating, take it back to the communities and begin in the homes," said Bates. "More groups that cater to the family...I'm a firm believer, if they focus from within, then I think we'd do without a lot of crime."

The barbershop talk was organized by a local group called Project Give Back to Community, one of multiple efforts underway to tackle crime. Mayor Levar Stoney announced on Friday that preventing violence requires "all hands on deck."

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