RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Police Department said officers have arrested 177 people in a special operation that was launched after two boys were gunned down outside a convenience store in November.
The figure shared by the department late last week is part of “Operation Red Ball” (ORB), which is an effort “to prevent violent crime and those illegally possessing firearms.”
Tracy Walker, a police spokesperson, said those who were investigated fit into three different categories.
“[Police seek] information on violent offenders based on criminal evidence in the commission of major crimes, those who have been victims of violent crime, or involved with related criminal activity,” she said.
A majority of those arrested have connections to government housing, Walker said, also indicating 43% of those arrested had no connection to the complexes.
“Fourteen percent [of those arrested] are connected to Hillside, 13% Mosby, 9% Uptown, and 5% Belt Atlantic,” a statement read, meaning a remaining 16% was not shared by police. Walker said Monday she would research where the remaining arrests applied to.
Michael Jones, a retired police chief and current security consultant, called the tactics deployed by the special operation, “predictive policing,” saying “it’s almost like a vaccination.”
While police have not said what charges the nearly 200 people face, Jones said the investigative tactic “put police in places” of a “possible offender,” adding that people may be charged with a lower level crime and officers “can’t do it unfairly, there must be probable cause.”
Defense Attorney and 8News Legal Analyst Russ Stone said “‘predicting crime’ is a constitutionally dangerous road unless they [police] are very careful not to be arresting people (or predicting crime) for the wrong reasons.”
During a press conference about an officer-involved shooting, Police Chief Gerald Smith said “the work that ‘Operation Red Ball’ has put in is just phenomenal work. They are, to put it bluntly, they are going after people that are pulling triggers.”
While Walker said, “data has proven ORB to be effective in the reduction of violent crime,” the latest citywide crime statistics published by the police department show that this is not the case for all kinds of violent crimes.
There have been 653 cases of all violent crimes in 2022 as of Sunday — 28 more cases than during the same time last year.
There have been 72 more aggravated assaults that occurred this year, compared to last, hitting 436 cases in 2022.
Meanwhile, there have been 33 fewer robberies, and three fewer rape cases this year. Homicides, including fatal shootings, have also decreased. There have been eight fewer homicides, six of which were shootings.
Walker declined 8News’ requests for an interview with police about the operation, saying Chief Smith is “likely to talk more about the Department’s gun violence prevention strategies,” during a crime briefing Thursday morning.