RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith gave update on crime in the city during the third quarter of the year, while announcing initiative to help curb criminal behavior.
July to September was a rough quarter, according to Chief Smith; while crimes like “rape” have gone down by 53% since the same time last year, other crimes like “homicides” saw an increase of 60%.
“We have seen small arguments escalate into violent acts --it’s something that baffles the mind. We’ve also seen some of the historical ‘beefs’ between neighborhoods and communities going back and forth," said the Chief, regarding some of the possible causes for the increase in homicides this year, adding, "we’re doing a deep dive to figure out where it’s coming from, but there is a myriad of reasons why it is occurring.”
But the statistics are not all grim, looking at the big picture of the city:
The Chief’s data showed a 13% decrease in violent crimes and 10% decrease in property crimes from January to September this year, in relation to the same time last year. Those number end up averaging a 10% decrease of major crime in the city.
Smith did mention some initiatives to help this downward trend, one being a continuation of a “National Night Out”, so people in the city could connect with officers on the ground. He emphasized the importance of police-community relations, calling the community their “number one resource".
Chief Smith also pointed out that vehicle thefts tie directly with violent crime. Of almost 400 guns reported stolen in 20202, "57% of [them] that are getting onto the streets of Richmond are coming from vehicles.” He recommended possible deterrents, such as owners locking up guns in portable gun safes, or even locking the guns altogether.
“We have come across some gun locks that we have right now, that you can pick up at every precinct including headquarters," he said, showing off the device.
He also mentioned other initiative, such as a partnership with a youth basketball league in the city, to help keep young people busy and off the street.
The Chief was also asked about two Richmond Officers who are facing criminal charges after protests that occurred in May.
“We’re going to let the process be the process. I know that as chief of police, my words can carry a little bit of heavier weight and I don’t want to interfere with that process moving forward... I think everyone in that process deserves a fair trial, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to sit back and let the verdict be the verdict,” he said.
Chief Smith added that he plans to continue holding these quarterly meetings moving forward.
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