RICHMOND, Va. -- Youth violence prevention dominated the conversation among city and school leaders this week as they work to find ways to curb violence in Richmond.
Richmond Police Chief of staff Spencer Cochran said that trauma triggered by the pandemic and other sources has left some young people with few positive outlets and they have struggled to control their emotions.
This in turn has led to destructive behaviors like being involved with gun violence. They are now trying to learn how to engage young people.
While other ideas and programs are examined, one effort RPD is looking at to roll out immediately is called Midnight Basketball. The program will keep 10 to 17-year-olds engaged between 8 p.m. and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays at the MLK Middle School gym.
Once there, RPD hopes to engage youth in other important programming and conversations.
Mayor Levar Stoney and RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras talked about how heartbreaking it's been to attend funerals for children.
Officials said that it's also unacceptable that innocent bystanders are being caught in the crossfire. So far, there have been 76 homicides in Richmond in 2021.
"I will do anything to help stop this so RPS stands ready to partner on anything that anybody on this call or anywhere else comes up with to address this," Kamras said.
There was also talk of programs that teach youth job and life skills so they're less likely to turn to violence or the streets to pursue money.
Cochran said RPD hopes to start Midnight Basketball this weekend and hopes to have plans for programs in Gilpin and other communities.