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Durham hopes to bring patrols back to housing units after violent 2016

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 18:39:57-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority dissolved its own police force almost two years ago.

In 2016 there crime and violence was high in the housing projects -- a major contributor to crime stats in the city, said Chief Alfred Durham said.

"It’s time to bring it back," Durham said, and hopes to staff the area with officers from his force.

"There's no reason for anybody in public housing community to have this type of weaponry," he said, holding up a gun seized from a criminal.

Durham referred to a map with dots representing where a life was lost in 2016, and many dots were concentrated in the city's public housing projects, also known as the courts.

"I don't like the crime going on around here,” said Wilbert Terry, adding that there is “not a lot during the day, but it gets bad at night."

Terry worries about his grandkids who live in Mosby Court.

He said having more officers around sounds like a “perfect idea-they need it around here." He's excited to hear that city leaders are contemplating a new crime fighting creation.

Durham hopes to create a “housing unit” similar to the RRHA patrol of a few years ago.

Chief Durham, once his department is better staffed, hopes to put more officers in high crime areas and keep them there.

"It's important to have officers designated to each of these communities,” he said. “That way citizens can not fear the place they live as much and they can build better relationships.”

And relationships between citizens and police isn’t something new, but Mayor Levar Stoney said it is necessary for crime reduction

"It can't just be done by police or Mike Herring’s office, it has to be a responsibility of neighbors in these communities as well."

City Council just gave police more than $1.5 million for new recruits, and Durham said those recruits will graduate in August – which may be the timetable for the start of this new housing unit.