Police chief blames these 3 things for spike in violence: 'We need to take a look'

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 19:01:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond’s police chief said officers are exploring three things that could be to blame for the spike in deadly violence in the River City.

Richmond has seen 36 homicides so far in 2021 as violent crimes in major cities across the country are up.

The latest was a double shooting that left one man dead at a Southside home early Friday morning and another man hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Richmond Double Shooting Chapel Dr.png

Police Chief Gerald Smith said in an interview with Crime Insider Jon Burkett Friday afternoon that city leaders are working to pinpoint problem areas.

"When it comes to violent crime, there are three things we are looking at,” Smith said. “The pandemic and the emotional and mental toll it has taken on people, a lack of trust in the police, which we are working on, and the prolific amount of guns that are out here on the streets."

The motives for recent the violence run the gamut from drugs, domestic flights to posts on social media platforms, according to Smith.

"Combined with people not coping well with the situations, you've got financial worries, unemployment. You’ve got housing issues starting to rise,” Smith explained. “Those types of things will lead to violence. They disrupt society and we need to take a look at them."

Smith also echoed his counterparts in the region calling the number of illegal weapons on the streets staggering.

Major crimes detectives are now forced to open new cases before they complete others.

While Smith said he feels their frustration, he wants his officers to know they are valued.

“I have their back and they are my heroes, but the community's heroes too,” Smith said. “And the amount of times I hear that from people that live in the city is often -- people want them there."

Burkett told the chief that officers he has spoken with cuffed when it comes to proactive policing because they said new laws are making their jobs “extremely difficult” when it comes to traffic stops.

The chief acknowledged that but also said he has challenged his officers to come up with creative ways to collect that same information they believe they would have previously garnered via a traffic stop.

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