Police chief: Richmond sees increasing trend of violent crimes tied to minors
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond police released 2021 crime statistics on Friday showing that while violent crime may be down in the city, homicides are up.
Chief Gerald Smith called it “an anomaly” during Friday’s presentation. Typically, when violent crime decreases, homicides will decrease; that was not the case in Richmond.
Ninety homicides were reported in 2021 alone, with 12 justifiable homicides.
However, Smith said the concerning trend officers are seeing is who is committing these acts of violence. Across Richmond, youth are becoming the ones behind these violent crimes increasingly.
“It’s very concerning,” Smith said.
It’s a change that will take a lot of work - not just through the police department.
“It’s just not a concern of the police department, it is a community concern, and we all have a hand in it,” he added. “We all need to do everything we can to reach out to our youth and make sure they are guided in the way they need to be guided.”
However, beyond the individuals responsible, these crimes are also claiming the lives of our youth - like that of Abdul Bani-Ahmad and Rahquan Logan. The two were killed during a quadruple shooting of Nine Mile Road in November.
“We have no idea what kind of contributions this 9-year-old or the 14-year-old would have done or given to the city, given to the world itself,” Smith said. “This was a senseless act of violence.”
Those acts of violence increased within the last three months of 2021. Thirty-three percent of the overall homicides happened in that time frame.
Smith believes it’s tied to one aspect.
“I think a lot of it was our youth, our youth,” he said.
It is why in November, Richmond police launched Operation Red Ball; a 90-day effort to increase visibility in areas of high crime across the city.
So far, 79 guns were seized with nearly 100 felony charges filed. There are still 27 days to go.
“We have seen somewhat of a decrease in our youth involved in some of these crimes as well,” Smith said.
When it comes to other violent crimes, rape, robberies and aggravated assaults deceased compared to the last few years.
|Motor vehicle theft||1,139||1,023||1,165||947||942||786|
However, another area of concern that ties back to the increasing trend with young people is gun thefts.
“We recovered 947 guns last year; over half of them were stolen,” Smith said. “People need to hold onto their property and be responsible for what happens to their property. That is one reason why. How are they getting into the hands of kids? Because they’re being stolen; straw purchases as well, it’s a point.”
Smith said he’s committed to working with Richmond Public Schools to address this ongoing problem and wants community engagement.
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