RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said there was no overnight fix to the gun violence that has historically plagued the City of Richmond. Richmond Police have responded to around 80 homicides in 2021, in 2020 and 2019, more than 60 people were killed in crimes classified as homicides, according to Richmond Crime statistics.
"We are obviously heartbroken by this. But, we know that there are solutions to be had," Stoney said. "A lot of this sometimes ends up being where they know each other and they end up taking someone's life and the failure to find other ways to resolve their conflicts."
Stoney said Richmond was not alone in seeing a spike in violence and points to pressures of the pandemic, rifts between police and communities since the murder of George Floyd and ensuing protests, and increasing guns on the street.
He said part of the solution would be continuing to work with Richmond City Council on officer retention and recruitment to fill the 100-plus vacancies within the department.
"Working on the quality of life of working for the City of Richmond in the police department are things that we're going to take up in 2022," he said.
Stoney said he would continue to focus on community-based solutions to prevent future gun violence but added there were also policing solutions.
"We want to make sure that we go after those folks who are willing, willing to take a life and wound or shoot someone -- we need to get them off the street," he said.
When asked about the idea floated by Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares to bring back Project Exile -- a federal program that was controversial for its targeting of Black and brown communities. Stoney said Richmond could not use 1990s strategies in 2021and wants to focus on what they hear from the community.
"We're going to roll out a gun violence framework in the early part of next year. And we're going to focus on making sure our neighborhoods are safe by putting more officers on the street and enhancing their salaries so they can stay here in the city of Richmond," Stoney said.
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