In a recent letter to city officials shared by Richmond Mayor Tom Butt on his e-forum, Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown reported an encouraging decrease in certain types of crimes during the first half of 2016, while also noting some persistent issues.
In his letter, Chief Brown also highlighted new initiatives his department will be employing in light of the recent assassinations of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
According to Chief Brown, Part 1 crime is down 12 percent citywide through June 30, 2016. It’s news he called encouraging, given that the city experienced an increase in crime over 2015. So far this year, the chief reports that crime has been down every month between 7-11 percent.
Equally encouraging is that nonviolent crimes impacting the greatest number of Richmond residents show a significant decrease, per the chief, who relayed that residential break-ins are down 31 percent, petty thefts are down 24 percent and automobile break-ins are down 18 percent.
Chief Brown reports that through June, Richmond police officers have handled 50,650 service calls, of which 34 percent were officer-initiated. On average officers are dealing with 8-9,000 service calls monthly.
Circling back to Part 1 crime, despite our city’s favorable crime news, there is still one area of serious concern: homicides.
According to Chief Brown, “homicide remains the exception” to Richmond’s promising crime trends and continues to be “a persistent problem in our community.”
As of this writing, 17 murders have occurred in Richmond year-to-date, with the average age of the victims being 27. Chief Brown points to continued gang warfare as being at the root of this violence.
“We’ve…called in Special Investigations (SIS) detectives to address what we see as a spark that’s certain to ignite back-and-fourth shootings connected to the beef between North and Central gangsters—historically Richmond’s most deadly and longest running criminal conflict,” said Chief Brown. “With help from our Ceasefire partners and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, we’ll work around the clock to disrupt what can become an escalating pattern of public gun violence.”
The chief also said the “community has been stepping up like we’ve not experienced in past decades to help get these crimes solved and charged.”
Aside from providing city leaders with the year-to-date crime recap, Chief Brown addressed new initiatives he’s looking at to protect his officers against possible attacks following the recent killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Calling the recent assassinations of police officers in these cities “every working cop’s worst nightmare” Chief Brown said that the department has “been running some patrols with officers riding two per patrol car, and we’ve put on some training and practice scenarios on how to best react to ambush situations to raise officer tactical and situational awareness.”
“We will also be putting on a patrol rifle course in the very near future to certify additional officers to deploy long guns that we already have in our inventory but have yet to be assigned and issued,” he said, adding, “We will also be looking to acquire additional protection for officers in the field in the form of ballistic blankets and additional portable ballistic shields that can be useful in ambush or downed-officer rescue situations.”
“We will continue to explore other ways to help keep officers safe in the new threat environment, including unmanned aerial observation platforms and a rescue vehicle—and, of course, new funding sources to support such officer safety and wellness efforts (Pillar 6, President’s 21st Century Policing Report),” said Chief Brown in his letter.
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