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'Respect Richmond’ social media campaign successful in curbing retaliatory violence

The Respect Richmond campaign first launched in September 2017. (Source: Respect Richmond)
The Respect Richmond campaign first launched in September 2017. (Source: Respect Richmond)
Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 at 10:30 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Attorney General Mark Herring and the Richmond Police Department released results Tuesday of the anti-violence, social media campaign “Respect Richmond.”

The campaign, which first launched in September 2017, sends anti-retaliation ads and messages to thousands of people in neighborhoods surrounding any given shooting, robbery or violent crime. Those ads show up on social media, gaming networks, radio, billboards and in corner stores, all aiming to diffuse retaliatory violence.

During this last round of the Respect Richmond campaign from Memorial Day to Labor Day, violent crime was down 30 percent in the most troubled neighborhoods of the city. Respect Richmond ads showed up on cell phones and social media more than 5 million times, during that time period.

"We want to stop them from even thinking about (retaliation) by hearing a message and meeting them where they are, where they're most likely to see it,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Data from the campaign shows that “violent crimes were down across the city compared to the year before, particularly in priority neighborhoods that were a focus of the campaign.”

Neighborhoods that were part of the campaign saw a:

  • 50 percent decrease in homicides
  • 41 percent decrease in robbery with a firearm
  • 100 percent decrease in robbery victims shot
  • 31 percent decrease in aggravated assault
  • 34 percent decrease in aggravated assault with a firearm
  • 57 percent decrease in aggravated assault victims shot
  • 30 percent decrease in total violent crimes 
  • Creighton Court saw a 100 percent decrease in homicides and a 55 percent decrease in total violent crimes.
  • Fairfield Court did not have any homicides during the campaign and had an 80 percent decrease in aggravated assault and a 50 percent decrease in total violent crimes. 
  • Gilpin Court had a 100 percent decrease in both homicides and robbery with a firearm as well as a 75 percent decrease in aggravated assault victims who had been shot.
  • Whitcomb Court saw a 100 percent decrease in robbery victims who were shot and a 20 percent decrease in total violent crimes. 

Law enforcement officials say Respect Richmond ads are especially effective since arguments that turn violent are increasingly being fueled on social media.

"It’s one tool to supplement the great work that the men and women of the Richmond police department do every single day to arrest violent criminals,” continued Herring.

Besides anti-retaliation messages, officials say that Respect Richmond has tripled the number of tips received by Crime Stoppers, from the community.

"That’s a real indication that the level of communication and interaction between the community and law enforcement is increasing,” said Herring.

The campaign is funded by $350,000 in federal grant money, and is a partnership between the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Richmond police and the local advertising agency.

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