RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith addressed the community and provided an update on crime in the city during the first quarter of 2022 — and spoke about the department’s achievements so far this year.

According to Smith, there have been 17 homicides so far in 2022, two victims of which were juveniles. Reported incidents of both rape and robbery have decreased compared to the first quarters of the last few years. Aggravated assaults have increased compared to 2020 and 2021, but numbers this year are similar to years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Incidents of arson have increased significantly compared to the first quarter of the last few years with 17 so far in 2022. Smith says nine of those were committed by just one person.

Property crimes, shoplifting and thefts from building and vehicles have also increased substantially. Smith says catalytic converter and package thefts have been significant problems in the city. Eight arrests have been made for catalytic converter thefts out of 191 reports.

Body army vests donated by Richmond Police to freedom fighters and humanitarian aid workers in Ukraine (Photo: Forrest Shelor/WRIC)

Smith also took some time to talk about the department’s recent achievements. One of those achiements is the implementation of “Operation Red Ball.” 159 firearms have been siezed, 144 felony arrests and 943 misdemeanor arrests have been made and 42 warrants have been served so far over the course of Operation Red Ball.

Smith also took time to mention the departments efforts to thwart an illegal car club of around 300 drivers from causing trouble in the city in February, as well as the two officers who rescued around 10 people from a fire at a motel on Midlothian Turnpike in January.

Smith announced that the department will be donating 280 body army vests to freedom fighters and humanitarian aid workers in Ukraine.

Smith also said Richmonders can expect a heavy police presence when partaking in the nightlife of Shockoe Bottom.

“We want everyone to be safe when they go down there to have a good time, and that is what we’re doing,” said Smith. “We’re continuing to work with the entertainment district to make sure it’s safe.”