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How Mayor Stoney plans to combat violence in Richmond in the new year: 'We are going to do more'

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 31, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- In the first 31 days of the new year, the City of Richmond has had five homicides and a string of other shootings.

Mayor Levar Stoney addressed concerns about public safety in the city on Tuesday night in his State of the City Address which was held for the first time in person since 2020 in front of a crowd of community leaders and advocates.

"The cornerstone of a thriving community is safe neighborhoods and streets," Stoney said.

Stoney said they are "throwing the kitchen sink" at the measures they are taking with hopes to strengthen public safety. The approach comes as the city saw an increase in shootings last year and a 34% decrease in homicides last year, according to data from the Richmond Police Department.

Some of the initiatives to strengthen safety in Richmond include allocating millions in pay increases for law enforcement, increased funding for public safety, the addition of street lights, expanding gun violence prevention and youth development programs and securing funds for a Real Time Crime Center.

Stoney described the latter as an "air traffic control" for officers in the field that utilizes cameras and technology to maximize efficiency in their duties.

Stoney also called on residents to lock up their guns, a sentiment that Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards has voiced as well. In 2022, RPD reported that 714 guns were stolen from cars.

"I want to be explicitly clear. Working with our federal partners, we will pursue the maximum federal charges for illegal guns, illegal modifications like Glock switches and drum magazines that turn already dangerous handguns into weapons of war. If you possess these weapons, you will be held accountable," Stoney said.

Stoney also touched on the establishment of Richmond's first civilian review board and his commitment to work with the city council to get it operating.

Pastor Valerie Coley, who is part of Richmond's Trauma Healing Network and was appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to a public safety council, said she believes the city's current approach to slow violence isn't working.

She said that leaders need to get a place where they can put away their political differences and come together, saying she believes that the city needs to have people who are rooted in communities who are dedicated to combatting crime.

"There are guys out there that know the kids and people doing the crime and they have a repour with them. Instead of funding these individuals you keep funding, get with these individuals,” Coley said.

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