RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– The Richmond Police Department said it is trying to tackle an increase of homicides in the city.
Last year, there were 90 homicides in the City of Richmond, which is the highest number recorded in 15 years. By comparison, the city saw 66 homicides in 2020.
“We have to look at it and say, ‘Yes, it’s a national trend. But what are we doing here in Richmond?'” Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith asked at a briefing on Friday.
In November, 9-year-old Abdul Rahman Hamad and 14-year-old Rahquan Logan were gunned down in a quadruple shooting near a convenience store on Nine Mile Road. Four teenagers were arrested for the crime. Chief Smith said this incident is an example of violent crimes increasing among the youth.
“It’s concerning for myself, it’s concerning for everybody in the police department and talking to Jason Kamras, he’s also concerned about it because these are kids in the school system,” Smith said.
The department warned residents to not stow their guns in cars. Richmond police say they seized 947 guns in 2021 and more than 500 of them were stolen, some of which ended up in the hands of juveniles.
“If you take a look and talk to anyone around the country, they will tell you the effects of COVID on our youth have been horrific and we see that here too,” Smith said.
There are 27 days left of Operation Red Ball, an initiative by RPD to get firearms off the streets. So far, 71 firearms have been seized to date and 98 people have been charged with felonies. The department said it will discuss if they will continue the operation.
While thefts of motor vehicles are down, motor vehicle parts thefts have skyrocketed — this is a trend being seen nationwide. Smith said catalytic converter thefts made up a majority of auto part thefts. However, there were 573 motor vehicle part thefts in 2020 compared to 855 in 2021. Smith recommends residents buy anti-theft devices to protect their cars.
Although rapes, arsons and burglaries are down, there was a 26% increase in aggravated assaults.
The Richmond Coalition of Police released survey results that found 96% of officers who responded had lost confidence in Smith’s ability to lead. When 8News asked Chief Smith if he had a response, he replied, “I’m here for the long haul.”
Moving forward, RPD will be one of 10 departments nationwide part of a National Public Safety Partnership to address violent crime.