RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — A man was shot dead in Richmond’s Gilpin Court Tuesday morning. The act of deadly violence in the alleyway where the man was found unresponsive is the latest example of bullets flying in the capital city.
And over the course of one year since Mayor Levar Stoney declared gun violence a “public health crisis,” the homicide rate from firearms has slightly worsened.
Twenty-five people in the city have reportedly been shot dead in 2022; four more people than this time last year according to the latest city crime statistics published Sunday.
Just last year, Richmond saw the most deadly shootings of any year in the last 15 years, according to the police department.
In February, Police Chief Gerald Smith stood next to the mayor to announce that gun violence interrupter roles were coming, but the job posting did not close until mid-April.
In the months since, no one has formally started working in the roles designed to curb gun violence, according to a police spokesperson.
But why the delay? The police department cites ongoing background checks.
“These individuals will be from the streets, there’s no other way to put it. These people will come with some baggage, they will come with history. But, they will come with experience connections to the community that we don’t have,” Smith said in February when the violence interrupter roles were announced.
The chief’s point led 8News to ask city hall if the violence interrupter positions will require a different background check process. For example, will any ‘red flags’ raised during typical background checks be waived, because of candidates’ possible brushes with the law?
A city hall communications representative and interim head of city human resources did not immediately respond for comment Tuesday.
While the highly touted violence interrupter roles have not been put to use, Stoney has cited ongoing measures to curb the violence.
In the aftermath of mass shootings in Texas, western New York and Chesterfield County, Stoney promoted a gun buyback program Tuesday, labeling it, “one of many strategies we are utilizing to stop the violence in our community.“
Even so, more people are being killed, and more often, and Stoney previously surmised that a remedy won’t be immediate.
“The proof will be in the pudding a couple years from now. Right? We are investigating the root causes of these, of this violence,” he said during a press conference in late March.