43 people shot dead in Richmond this year, mayor proposes small amount of Rescue Plan funds to prevent gun violence

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After declaring gun violence a “public health crisis,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney detailed plans to allocate less than one percent of the city’s multi-million dollar allocation from the American Rescue Plan to directly combat firearm incidents.

Stoney outlined his spending plan to city council Monday night for how he wished to use $155 million; the city’s slated award from the federal government’s massive pandemic relief package.

While community infrastructure projects received top billing in his presentation, an online breakdown of the plan shows Stoney wishes to use $1.5 million to prevent gun violence by “providing programming and implementing research.”

Money that Mayor Stoney plans to allocate to prevent gun violence, from the city’s $155 million allocation of the American Rescue Plan. Stoney’s office defended their totals Wednesday, saying that millions of dollars more for first responder bonuses, and street-side cameras and lighting will aid the gun violence fight.

Since Monday seven people have been shot during three separate shootings in Richmond, leaving one teen in critical condition.

The capital city has seen 53 homicides so far in 2021; 43 involved a gun, according to public data from the Richmond Police Department.

In the weeks after a shooting that left women and girls shot at a Southside apartment complex, killing a young mother and her infant daughter, Stoney and VCU Health officials declared gun violence a “public health crisis.”

During that press conference at city hall, Stoney said the effort, “will require a mobilization of people, programming and investment.”

Stoney’s office defended the total of what they outlined to spend on gun violence prevention from ARP funds Wednesday, saying that $5 million for first responder bonuses, and streetside cameras and lighting will aid the gun violence fight.

While specifics of the programming and research are not immediately known, the mayor offered clues during a press conference Wednesday in city council chambers on the pandemic response.

“We believe that in order to make this work, it’s going to take those who are a part of our human services division, those who are part of the health department plays a role here,” Stoney said.

The mayor added that new gun violence prevention programs would likely mirror ones to be implemented after the city recently received $500,000 from the state to combat gun violence; including intervention inside schools for students, plus after school programming, mentorships and even stipends for student participants.

A press release from Mayor Stoney’s office after Virginia’s Division of Criminal Justice Services awarded a $500,000 grant in August to combat gun violence.

Stoney offered no timeline when new programs, and research will be implemented using ARP funding.

City Council still must vote on the mayor’s plan before the $155 million is distributed.

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