Richmond, Va., once was hailed as an anti-crime success story by groups praising its tough stance against gun crimes. Now, the city is worried about last year’s 94 homicide victims, up 13 percent from 2002.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch says that 16 of the year’s victims were teenagers, and one was a 5-month-old boy. The suspects are getting younger, too. Police have charged at least eight juveniles in connection with seven of last year’s slayings. “It is a sad commentary on life in the city of Richmond that we’ve had so many murders this year,” Richmond Police Chief Andre Parker said last week. “Unfortunately, there are no microwave solutions to this.” Prosecutor David M. Hicks said, “The challenge for Richmond is not believing that we’ll be better when we look like the suburbs. It’s not about us-them. Since Cain and Abel, there’s been poor and rich people. We don’t need excuses.”
City Manager Calvin D. Jamison wants to cut crime through partnerships with schools, social-services groups, health officials, religious institutions, prosecutors, and housing officials.
One obvious problem is poor communication between leaders. Hicks has been critical of Parker and Jamison, and Jamison held a news conference to denounce Hicks’ criticism of city and police leadership. Hicks, Parker, and Jamison have not met to discuss crime – or anything, for that matter – in at least six months.