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Richmond Police shift focus after violent summer

Posted at 11:37 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 10:46:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In Richmond's East End, known to police as Sector 113, officers reported a lot of violence in August and September.

Of the 21 homicides, between August 1 and September 30, Richmond Police listed on the department's crime incident information website, five were reported in Sector 113.

Now that the deadly violence has slowed, police have shifted focus back to proactive policing by taking illegal guns off the streets.

"They're tired of living in fear,” Richmond Police Officer Khalid Harris said. “They saw what was going on and we weren't around and where our resources were being tied into. The city took a different turn in the summer."

Richmond Police insist their manpower was tied up in controlling social unrest, and that left vulnerabilities, which triggered one of the most violent summers in recent history, which also occurred amid a global pandemic and economic downturn.

In both 2018 and 2019, 11 homicides were reported during that same time period in Richmond. In 2017, the number was 16.

Victims in 2020 included Ricky Johnson's uncle, who was in his 80's.

"My uncle was brutally murdered inside a vehicle," said Johnson.

His life was taken by a gunman in a drive-by shooting.

Willie Johnston's death was a case of mistaken identity, Crime Insider sources told John Burkett.

"The city has been in total chaos,” said Johnson. “It brings joy to my heart that we know at least 30 guns are off the street, nevertheless!"

Johnson also runs a charity that helps the less fortunate with food and other necessities, something he re-started last week after putting it on hold for two months during turbulent times.

"I had to think of safety first,” said Johnson. “We didn't want to go into these communities and have a drive-by or something like that happen, as residents came to get the goods."

Police reported a specialized focus mission team pulled 25 illegal guns off the street in 28 days. They say a rifle even fell out of someone's car in front of their precinct.

Former members are known as the "jump out boys" among residents and Johnson hopes they keep taking that leap of faith.

"These are the communities where we live, work and play,” said Johnson. “These officers are out here trying to protect us. They're identifying subjects and letting them know, hey, you're not going to disrupt where people are trying to live and children are trying to play."

"We've made a difference in my opinion,” said Harris. “The community sees it. The community knows we are back and they will tell you they are glad to see it. They want us to curb the violence."