RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — Nearly one week after Richmond police said 177 people were arrested in a special operation aimed to curb violence, the department has still not disclosed what charges are associated with the arrests.
The department first shared details about ‘Operation Red Ball’ to 8News on July 28, noting that a majority of the arrests were connected to public housing.
Fourteen percent of the arrests were tied to Hillside Court, and 13 percent to Mosby Court, according to an email from Tracy Walker, a spokesperson with the Richmond Police Department.
Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith spoke to the public on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 2, about community building during a ‘National Night Out’ event, but he did not answer 8News’ questions. The nationwide event presents an opportunity for communities to host gatherings along with law enforcement to further prevent crime and build relationships.
At the event, Walker indicated that the department was “saving [questions about] Red Ball until Thursday,” something she said nearly a week ago.
A quarterly crime briefing is scheduled for Thursday morning, where Walker said the chief would entertain reporters’ questions about the operation.
On Tuesday, Walker told 8News that Smith would likely want to focus on the event, something 8News had said they would also ask him about. However, Walker then indicated the chief did not have time to address questions due to another community event.
It remains unknown what the near-200 people have been charged with, and why.
ORB was launched after two boys were killed in a fatal shooting in Richmond’s east end in November. The operation’s goal is to target people illegally possessing guns and to prevent violent crime.
During an press conference last week about an officer-involved shooting, Smith said, “to put it bluntly they are going after people that are pulling triggers.”
Walker said Monday that Richmond and federal investigators have been working to “gather information on violent offenders based on criminal evidence in the commission of major crimes, those who have been victims of violent crime, or involved with related criminal activity.”
Fatal shootings are slightly down this year. According to the latest police data, published Monday, Aug. 1, there have been 30 fatal shootings in Richmond this year versus 36 at this same time last year.
However, violent crime is up — there have been 28 more cases this year compared to last year. There have been 653 violent crimes in all of 2022, according to the report.
Jones said determining the success of ORB would likely be done independently and not by local police.
“I would not begin to claim success until we have had a track record, and the study has been evaluated by others other than just the PD [police department],” Jones said.
Richmond Police Major Ronnie Armstead was quoted in Walker’s initial email about ORB, saying, “If this operation can prevent one act of violence or prevent one more person from being shot, it is a success”