What is contributing to violent crime rise in Henrico?

Posted at 8:43 AM, Mar 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-29 08:43:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - For 26 years, Hazel Watson has been a staple in the Central Gardens neighborhood of Eastern Henrico. In that time she said she never worried about neighborhood violence.

"I haven't seen any of it. But I heard of it,” Watson said.

But a recent spike in violent crimes in the Fairfield district of Henrico County has put her a little on edge.

"I would love to see more security,” she said. “Police, you know patrolling around. "

Other neighbors, like Michael Smith who lives in the Maplewood Farms neighborhood, agrees.

“I would like to see more of a police effort to not react to what’s going on.  But take steps to control it,” Smith said.

This week - Henrico Police Chief Doug Middleton released the county's crime stats. He said Fairfield had the highest number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents.

Six of the 167 violent crimes reported in Fairfield last year were homicides. Half of the county's total homicides happened in the Fairfield district.

In 2011, there were 150 violent crimes and two homicides reported in Fairfield.

Chief Middleton said crimes that happen in Fairfield tend to cross over into the county from areas like Fairfield Court in Richmond.

"This is not a short term thing.  We didn't get this way overnight. We're not going to change it overnight, " Chief Middleton said. "But one goal is to stop it or slow it down and prevent it at every intersection we can possibly prevent it.

Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic said crime is less about address and more about situations.

"Crime is often socio-economically driven.  When you have poorer neighborhoods, you're going to have the potential for criminal activity to occur,” Chief Tarasovic said.

Chief Tarasovic said Richmond Police are sharing resources and information with Henrico Police in an effort to curb violence.

“You have to generate alternatives,” Tarasovic said.  “We no longer police in a vacuum.”

Middleton said Henrico Police have stepped up patrols in the Fairfield district. He said officers are doing more community outreach programs and recruiting more officers to represent the county's growing Hispanic and Asian population.

The chief urged neighbors to speak up if they see crime happening in their community.