RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith discussed where Richmond stands in regards to crime during a community report Monday morning.
Smith’s report compared statistics to those from 2020, but he noted that the year was impacted by external factors like the coronavirus pandemic.
To date, Richmond is reporting 26 homicides compared to 21 last year.
There have also been five incidents of arson in the city. Last year it was high due to civil unrest during the summer. The number of reported sexual assaults is also down to six.
Violent crime in the city, when compared to 2020, is up to 426 reports. Last year, 364 violent crimes were reported.
Chief Smith said the police know who is being victimized and who is committing crimes. Smith said they are focusing on reaching young people and building trust in the community.
“We are looking at young people who are actually doing these crimes as well as being victims of it. So the pattern is starting to present itself to us so we know where to go, what efforts to do, and who to address,” Smith told reporters Monday.
Across the county, Smith said that violent crime is rising due to people not securing their guns, the pandemic’s effects on temper, economic stress and a distrust of police.
“We have to get trust back in to the police again so people can pick up the phone and give us a call,” Smith said.
In order to combat distrust in Richmond, RPD has been out during community walks over the last few months. However, Smith said their relationship with the community is ongoing.
“If our staffing levels were higher, we would put that staffing toward those three things that we know are affecting violent crimes at this time,” he said.
Smith said RPD officers are getting back to the basics of community policing by starting with grassroots movements like community walks. He also touched on reimagining efforts like encouraging accountability, updated use of force training and de-escalation training.