8News Exclusive: Richmond police chief on violent crime, plan to address gun violence and domestic incidents

Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WRIC) — Over one year after being tapped as Richmond’s top cop, Gerald Smith faces the increasingly pressured task to reduce violent crime as gun violence and domestic incidents trend upward.

8News caught up with Smith at a community police walk-through in the Museum District Wednesday evening. After several residents asked questions, he fielded ours, providing assurance he’s well aware of where the city’s violent crime is concerned. 

Shots fired, overdose and assault calls are increasingly heard on police scanners.

His department’s newest statistics show robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults are on par with last year.

“As of today, violent crime overall is flat,” Smith said. “We’re still addressing the violent crime”

But the most violent crimes are up: homicides.

Richmond has seen at least 66 killings so far this year—mostly are fatal shootings—equaling the total for all of 2020.

“It’s not as bad here as it is across the rest of the country,” Smith said on the issue.

“It’s not good, though,” 8News reporter Ben Dennis quickly followed up.

“It’s not, oh, I’m not saying that. It’s definitely not good… but we want Richmond to be an example when it comes down to violent crime,” Smith continued.

While there’s likely not an immediate fix to what no one hopes is a long-term problem,  the city is betting cash will help the cause.

To do that, at least $3 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan will help combat gun violence, add street lights and cameras.

However, in 8News’ interview Chief Smith shared an idea previously unknown to combat violent crimes. Smith said he hopes a “family justice center” will get off the ground.

“It addresses domestic violence, but it also addresses concerns that strengthen families, that are going through some challenging moments,” he said.

“We’re probably going to take a good, strong look to see if we can bring one of those to Richmond.”

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