Police beefing up patrols of nearly 2 dozen Richmond 'hotspots' to stop gun violence

Police chief: 'Five of our homicide victims were shot in these hotspots. Other people that were shot and wounded were in these hotspots.'
WTVR Crime Hotspots
Posted at 11:40 AM, Apr 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 12:44:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Aquan Young lives on Westover Hills Boulevard, in what Richmond Police have designated a "hotspot," one of 21 blocks in the city that are drawing extra police attention.

That's because their data show violent crime has been concentrated there in recent years.

But Young says it's the deadly violence of recent *weeks, in which eight teenagers were shot across the city with four killed, that he finds especially worrisome.

"That's kind of scary. Like I said, my kids come outside and a stray bullet could hit my kids," said Young. "It's scary. My wife actually works in the hospital. So she told me, 'We got these teens coming in here.' I'm like for what? And she says, 'Oh they got shot. This one is dead.'"

CBS 6 anchor Bill Fitzgerald and Aquan Young.
CBS 6 anchor Bill Fitzgerald and Aquan Young.

At a news conference Monday, Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said the hotspots will see extra patrols starting this week, bolstered by the addition of state troopers.

"Five of our homicide victims were shot in these hotspots," Edwards said of the recent violence. "Other people that were shot and wounded were in these hotspots."

WATCH: Despite deadly shootings, homicides in Richmond are down compared to this time in 2023, police chief says

RPD: Despite recent fatal shootings, homicides in Richmond down compared to this time in 2023

Police pinpointed the locations using data from 2018 to 2023, with an emphasis on the last six months and the last year.

"At the beginning of the year, we analyzed our city, which we broke into 29,000 areas of one to three blocks," said Edwards. "We asked our crime analyst to look at what crimes do we want that are most predictive of gun violence? That's homicides, involving firearms, non fatal shootings, robberies where a person is shot shooting into an occupied dwelling, and shooting into an occupied vehicle."

17 of the 21 'hotspots' are in Richmond's 1st and 2nd police precincts, which cover much of Richmond's East End and South Side.

"We know where this crime is going to be focusing on," Edwards said. "We're having a deterrent strategy, but we're also going to be enforcing the law in those areas."

Shane Perkins
Shane Perkins

"I woke up this morning, and right in front of our apartment, there was one there," said Shane Perkins about seeing a police vehicle. "Last night I came home from work, and we had one sitting there with lights on. I figured he was just sitting there, I didn't see him doing anything."

Perkins lives on the same block of Westover Hills Boulevard as Young and didn't realize he lived in a hotspot. But he is noticing more of a police presence during the late evening and early morning hours.

"Definitely the last couple of days, there's been a huge increase, Perkins said.

That kind of visibility is what the police chief is promising.

"We're going to be doing community walks, because we want our community seeing us out there in these neighborhoods that are experiencing crime," said Edwards. "Because the vast majority of people that live in these hotspots aren't creating the problems."

And as for the recent violence involving teens, Edwards says parents play a role in keeping kids away from crime too.

"We will also be focusing on curfew at 11pm," he said. "We're asking parents to bring their children inside their homes where they can be safe."

Aquan Young
Aquan Young

Young says, as a parent, he's happy to help but says he hopes the new measures are permanent.

"Follow up on it. Don't give us false hope," Young said. "If you say you're going to do it, I expect that to be done."

Richmond Police will also be starting their Operation Safe Summer program, which partners with state and federal agencies targeting illegal guns, on Friday, nearly two months early.

Edwards says last summer the program led to a 30% drop in gun violence.

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