RPD Chief Gerald Smith gives an update on city violence

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith provided an update on crime in the city Wednesday morning, touching on several RPD initiatives.

Updating the public on the department’s third quarter crime statistics, the period runs from July 1 to September 30, Smith said violent crime has risen four percent compared to the same time last year. That is a total of 14 additional incidents compared to 2019:

The figures break down as followed:

  • Homicides are up 60%: +9
  • Rapes are down 53%: -9
  • Robberies are up 6%: +6
  • Aggravated assaults are up 4%. +8.
  • Property crime is down 13%.
  • Arsons are up 17%.
  • Burglaries are down 32%: -82.
  • Larcenies are down 15%: ~250.

Chief Smith said the current tense climate between police and the community does make it more difficult to solve crime.

“When you make us the villain and people in the community, some people start to believe that narrative, some people don’t, but some do,” Smith said.

The Chief revealed the uptick in violence is due to a number of reasons.

“The most concerning is that we have seen some small arguments escalate into violent acts and it’s something that baffles the mind. We have also seen some of the historical beefs between communities and neighborhoods going back and forth,” Smith said.

Police have previously told 8News many of the shooters are young between the ages of 15 and 21-years-old.

“If we decrease the firearms available to violent offenders and those too young to legally acquire them, we can decrease violent crime in Richmond,” Smith said.

So far this year, data from Richmond Police shows 376 guns reported stolen in 333 different incidents.

215 firearms were taken from vehicles, police added. Nearly 57% of stolen guns that are getting on the streets of Richmond are coming from vehicles.

In 2019, 313 firearms reported stolen from 262 incidents during the same period. 2020 is up 20%.

Just last week, a thief was captured on surveillance video stealing a firearm from a car.

Since the start of the year, 544 guns have been taken off the streets by police. At this time, it is not clear if any of the guns were also used in crime.

In Virginia, it is illegal to not report a lost or stolen firearm to local law enforcement or Virginia State Police within 48 hours of realizing it’s gone.

Gun locks can be picked up at every precinct including Richmond Police Headquarters at 200 West Grace Street.

“We don’t want these guns in the hands of violent offenders and we don’t want them in the hands of children,” Chief Smith said. “If your gun is unsecure and in your car and you have kids and you’re talking about little fingers and curious minds, we all know that is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Detectives want to remind citizens of RPD’s ongoing “Lock it or Lose It” campaign.  Taking a few small precautions can help secure a vehicle and prevent crimes of opportunity such as motor vehicle theft or theft from motor vehicles:

  • Lock car doors. Regardless of where it’s parked, lock up and keep valuables out of sight.
  • Never leave keys inside the car. It makes the vehicle an easy target.
  • Don’t leave a running vehicle unattended, even for a few minutes.

Chief Smith said police will continue to do quarterly reports. The next one will be for the fourth quarter with the department’s total statistics from the entire year. Police said this is an effort to have open dialogue and conversations about what is taking place in the City of Richmond.

Watch the full update here:

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