Richmond Homicide Map: A look inside the numbers
on October 19, 2009
In 2009, police have recorded 41 homicides in Richmond (as of Oct. 5), a total that already surpasses that of all of 2008.
The homicide data reveals some stark facts: Gun violence accounts for almost all deaths, less than a third of the crimes have been solved, over half of the homicides occurred over the summer and the victims are disproportionately under the age of 30.
More youth are becoming involved in violent crime than before, said Richmond Police Department Capt. Allwyn Brown.
“One of the trends that we’ve noticed is that, as it relates to some of the violent crime and to some homicides, a lot more young people are involved in more serious violent crime,” Brown said. “That’s different maybe than was the case in years past.”
In recent years, under the direction of Police Chief Chris Magnus, the department has ramped up its crime prevention efforts with devices such as ShotSpotters and built more partnerships with community leaders. ShotSpotters are microphones that capture and relay the sounds of gunfire to a high-tech computer system. The microphones can immediately pinpoint the location of discharge to the square-foot. The technology was installed in portions of the Iron Triangle in May and will soon be expanded into other neighborhoods, Brown said.
Brown was quick to note that while homicides have spiked compared
to 2008, when only 27 killings were recorded all year, violent crime overall is down.
With fewer than 200 officers patrolling a city of 102,000, the department must compensate for its understaffing relative to industry optimums — two officers per 1,000 population — with improved community relations, Brown said.
“Crime prevention is one of the most underutilized resources that police departments have,” Brown said, stressing that the Richmond department has made prevention a priority. Brown added that there are more than 30 neighborhood associations in the city, and that beat officers meet regularly with civic leaders in their neighborhoods.
When pressed to explain why homicides are dramatically up in 2009, Brown stopped short of suggesting that the spike can be attributed to a rise in the number of armed, gang-affiliated teenagers. Sometimes numbers rise and fall for no discernible reason, Brown said.
“In a general historic sense, crime typically fluctuates up and down,” Brown said.
Forty-plus homicide totals have been the norm for most of this decade, making last year’s 27 homicides the aberration, said Sgt. Bisa French.
Contact Alexa Vaughn at firstname.lastname@example.org and Robert Rogers at robert.rogers@rich
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