RICHMOND, Va. -- As Richmond is set to surpass last year's number of homicides, the city’s police department hopes a new grant from the Department of Justice will help combat violent crime.
"It's a big deal because we are only one of 10 cities across the country to be a recipient of this partnership this year,” Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said in an interview Friday with Crime Insider Jon Burkett.
As a result, Richmond Police will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Public Safety Partnership.
The program also includes "intensive training and technical assistance" in curbing gun violence as well as criminal justice collaboration, investigations, constitutional policing, community engagement, federal partnerships and crime analysis, officials with the police department said.
It also includes technology to develop "collaborative strategies and a lasting coordination structure to prevent and combat violent crime, especially related to gun, drug, and gang violence," according to the department.
Smith said the public safety partnership could not come at a better time.
"It is a big deal because it has shown so much success with other cities and municipalities in the past,” Smith said. “And when I say that, I’m not only saying the police departments benefit, but I’m talking about the cities and the municipalities. It is to improve police services… and significantly reduce violent crime."
Smith said that a reduction in gun violence is one of a few things the city needs now. Additionally, Smith plans on using the DOJ partnership to combat youth crime.
"Our youth are committing and being victimized by violent crime right now,” Smith said. “So that is something that this will help us take a look at that."
Smith said the partnership brings a lot of brass and brains to the table. For example, U.S. attorneys, commonwealth’s attorneys and numerous federal partners with resources will work together as Richmond unpacks the violence and looks to clean up the streets.
"RPD will develop a collaborative network consisting of stakeholders from all corners of our community including Richmond residents, public/private businesses, coalition and community leaders, and social service and law enforcement agencies to develop comprehensive solutions to violent crime reduction," officials with the police department said in a news release. "Our vision for this work is to gain better insight into the unique violent crime challenges in Richmond and determine system-wide approaches to implement crime reduction strategies and enhance public safety."
In addition, the DOJ partnership also aims to promote civil rights, increase access to justice, support crime victims, protect the public from crime and evolving threats, and build trust between law enforcement and the community, according to Richmond Police.
Smith said the best part is that the grant is a multi-year partnership.
“It’s a three year commitment,” Smith explained. “It’s not a fly-by-night program. This is something where it's all hands on deck to address violent crime."
While there is not a specific amount the DOJ will spend on the partnership, Smith estimated it to be around $800,000 between subject matter experts and other help he said the city desperately needs.