Richmond police officer explains rise in gun violence amid the pandemic and protest

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There has been a dramatic rise in gun violence in Richmond over the past few weeks.

Captain Rick Edwards, First Precinct Commander with the Richmond Police Department, said this has been the most difficult period he’s experienced in his 21 years of service on the force.

“When you combine covid and the protests like we’ve never seen before in our country, policing is a harder profession now more than any time in my career,” said Edwards.

In late May, protests began nationwide against police over the death of George Floyd including in Richmond. This has caused tensions to rise between police and the community.

“Our officers understand the stakes, they want to be police officers it’s just a sheer matter of resources at this point,” said Edwards.

Officers are being redeployed from their normal patrol to address protest activity. Edwards said that takes away their ability to do proactive policing in the neighborhoods that need it the most.

“Staffing is always a concern, cornavirus hit us hard initially as far as our ability to get out and do proactive policing and engage the community in a way that is enables us to make signifcant arrests because of those interactions,” Edwards said. “The protests requires staffing and sometimes that affects the things we’d like to do here at First Precinct.”

8News asked Edwards what he believes the solution is.

“What I would like to see is the protests end, I’d like our officers to come back and be able to do what we do best and fight crime in our city,” Edwardds said.

So far this year, there have been more than 170 shooting victims in Richmond. According to RPD, about 50 percent of the incidents are happening in the East End. That area includes five of the six Richmond public housing communities.

“The uptick we’re seeing we believe is due to specific neighborhood beefs. We have different communities that are, groups that are fighting with each other. So Mosby Court is fighting with Gilpin and Creighton and Whitcomb Court so groups and individuals are going back and forth and shooting at each other and these kinds of things can spiral,” said Edwards.

Statistics show so far this year, in both Mosby and Gilpin Court – 13 people have been shot. Followed by Whitcomb with 12 shooting victims and Creighton with 8. These numbers continuously change.

Captain Edwards said there are the historical arguments as well as disrespect online.

“You’d be surprised with what we’re seeing on Facebook what I would think would be a minor altercation between individuals can spiral into gun play,” Edward said.

Captain Edwards has a message to the people opening fire.

“We would just ask for people to understand every time you fire a bullet, you don’t know where it’s going to go and it could impact the rest of your life or the life of an innocent person,” he said.

Edwards added many of the shooters are between the ages of 15 and 21 years old. He is requesting all parents monitor their child’s social media — check for violent threats online and if you find a gun in your child’s bedroom, contact the police, a pastor, or someone else you trust in the community so we can avoid the next tragedy.

8News will continue to stay on top of this spark in violence and get answers from police. If you have any concerns or information to share, contact 8News at news@wric.com.

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