Residents still leery after joint RPD crackdown on crime effort

Posted at 1:54 PM, Sep 08, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-08 14:58:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - On Richmond’s East End, detectives wrapped up a shooting scene Friday morning after someone opened fire on a man near Whitcomb Court.

"Almost every week...something happens around this area," said Ebdullah Elasani, who runs a convenience store a block away from the Whitcomb neighborhood.

Elasani said he is not surprised by the violence.

"I see a lot of people on the street, I say, 'What happened to this guy?' He got killed. 'What happened to this woman?' She got shot,” said Elasani.

Elasani believes Richmond Police takes to long to respond, but said he isn't afraid because of fellow employees and security in his store.

Across town, John Ellis, the president of the Oak Grove Neighborhood Watch, said high grass and vacant properties concern him because they can be a breeding ground for criminal activity.

In fact, Ellis checks for code violations and suspicious activities, but knows police cannot be everywhere. Still, he wishes there were more officers on the streets.

"We could use more police officers because I think police are understaffed,” said Ellis.

Both Elasani and Ellis said they have spotted Virginia State Police camping out and driving through their communities recently.

That's because over the past two months, Richmond police and Virginia State Troopers have teamed up to track down fugitives and take illegal firearms off city streets.

Authorities have spent the last week of the Fugitives and Firearms Initiative in the Oak Grove, Whitcomb, Fairfield, Hillside and Mosby Court. Those are two of the neighborhoods where Elasani and Ellis expressed concern about lack of police presence and slow response times.

However, Richmond police said officers are shifted to where they are needed.

"If one area... has a spike in crime, they're going to get a little bit more attention. They're not going to look away from other areas, but we have to go where the crime trends are,” said Lt. Tommy Lloyd with the RPD.

When asked about Elasani's claim that officers are somtimes slow to respond, Lloyd  said  it all depends on the situation.

"Some will respond a little quicker [to] circulate to see if we can find a suspect. If there's a suspect given in the description as officer's are in route to the shooting,” said Lloyd.

Police urged residents to contact their Sector Lieutenant with problems in their neighborhoods and hope the recent joint crackdown will help curb crime in the neighborhoods.

As part of the summer Fugitives and Firearms Initiative sweeps, law enforcement officials issued 195 warrants, arrested 431 people, seized 72 illegal guns, 71 grams of Cocaine, 30 grams of Heroin, and 2,145 grams of marijuana. And $29,462.69 in cash was seized, too.

Police said 95 percent of those seized items are the results of traffic stops.