Southside residents get progress report on area crime

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The main message to residents living south of the James River tonight was, ‘if you see something suspicious, call 9-1-1.’

Back in October, residents held a meeting with Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham about an increase in crime since the summer.

Katie Lemmert of the South of the James Neighborhood Watch says, “there have been home break-ins, car thefts, shootings.”

Chief Durham says one of the things hurting his department is a lack of personnel. He says it hasn’t operated at full capacity in years. Despite that challenge, he reports a 12% decrease in violent crime over all, but says they are struggling with property crime. It’s something he’s asking for help from residents to combat.

“We’re trying to put efforts in place by telling citizens in the community, secure your vehicle, move all your personal property out of the vehicle and leave nothing in plain view,” Chief Durham said. “But the message is not getting across to some people and they’re becoming victims and making our crime numbers go up.”

Back in october, residents also asked to see more officers patrolling the area. So far, they’re happy with the response.

“We have seen a positive increase in police presence in the last two months”, said Lemmert.

Anne Shelton lives in the Westover neighborhood. She says, “we have ‘the foot,’ we call him the foot soldier in our neighborhood. We see him and it’s very comforting.”

Another issue that came up was police response times. Chief Durham told residents that 9-1-1 is now a separate entity from the police department, which may be contributing to communication errors. It’s information the chief says he will take back to the department of emergency communications.

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