HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Disturbing numbers out of Henrico County - they have 22 homicides so far this year. The rate is the highest it has been in five years.
The number weighs heavily on Police Chief Humberto Cardounel's mind. While he's only been leading the department for 18 months, it's one of his top concerns.
"What we're seeing more and more of: there is less civility and conflict resolution and more of a tendency to resort to violence," he said.
Here's a look at the homicide rate, according to Henrico Police statistics:
- 2012 - 12 homicides
- 2013 - 12 homicides
- 2014 - 8 homicides
- 2015 - 12 homicides
- 2016 - 16 homicides
- As of October 2017 - 22 homicides
The chief says as detectives tried to find a common link between the murders, they found something else.
"We're not seeing a common link. We're not seeing a common geographical area," he said. "What we're seeing is just across the board, general violence."
Chief Cardounel says the murders have ranged from domestic-related to arguments to ongoing feuds. NBC12 asked if any of the feuds could be gang-related.
"I think it's a fair assessment," he said. "Our gang issue is a little different. It's not typically what you would see in the large cities, but no less, they're just as violent."
NBC12 asked if the violence is related to crimes we've seen in Richmond.
"The one thing we recognize is that there are no jurisdictional boundaries when it comes to some of these feuds and arguments," he said.
The chief says there have been arrests in about 90 percent of the homicide cases. One still open however, is the murder of 1-year-old Jaidah Morris. She was gunned down while sleeping in her home on Fayette Avenue. NBC12 asked the chief if detectives are closer to making an arrest.
"I'm confident that we will be able to bring closure to that family, to hold that person or persons accountable for that loss of life," he said.
Chief Cardounel says to counter the violence, more resources have been put into forming units called DART at each police station. These teams focus on particular crimes in their part of the county.
The chief also says officers are educating the public about keeping their weapons in a safe place. He says too many guns have been stolen from unlocked cars.
"Those firearms will eventually fall into the hands of somebody who is going to perpetuate a crime," he said.
Countering the violence is going to take more than good police work.
"Is it a police concern? Absolutely. Is it a community concern? Absolutely. Is it a faith-based community obligation? Absolutely. We all have a piece in this pie."
Chief Cardounel says the number of homicides could fluctuate by the end of the year, because a couple cases under investigation could be ruled accidental or justified. He says other crime statistics in Henrico have remained steady.
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