RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a crime briefing on Wednesday, Oct. 5, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said violent crime is up 2% in the city compared to this time last year.

He also addressed the recent string of gun violence involving teenagers.

“These numbers are one thing, but in reality, we have to do all we can to do everything we can to protect our children so they can go to the store, go to school,” the Police Chief said.

The briefing comes after two teenagers were shot within days of each other in the city’s southside. A 14-year-old was shot Monday evening near Kinsley Avenue. On Friday, a 17-year-old Huguenot student was shot while walking toward a bus stop.

According to city data, 17 juveniles have been shot in 2022. Three of the shootings have been deadly, including in the cases of Tynashia Humphrey and Jesse Crumble Bullock.

“These are numbers, but behind these numbers, these are our children,” Smith said.

When asked what can be done to prevent these violent crimes, Smith urged parents to be more involved in their children’s social media and friend groups.

“Bad things have happened to kids and when a parent checks a room, they find guns or bullets that they had no idea [existed], so those are the things that we can do,” he said. ”We can support our school system as well, too.” 

As far as overall crime prevention, Richmond Police touted their ’Operation Red Ball,’ and gun buyback program in which 474 guns were collected in exchange for gift cards.

Smith also said community conversations and outreach events like Wednesday’s ”Coffee with a Cop” have been successful in dropping homicide numbers from 60 last year this time, to 43.

Still, he admitted, more officers could mean more crime prevention. Currently, the department is down 153 officers.