Richmond Police Unveil Anti-Violence Strategy

Major Ronnie Armstead

by James A. Bacon

Shootings and homicides are surging in Richmond this year, and city police have a new strategy to bring the situation under control. They’re compiling a list of “shooters” and potential shooters. In a Monday press conference, Major Ronnie Armstead, who is leading the initiative, said the list includes “violent people that are known to be shooters, even if they didn’t have a record.”

The police have compiled the list, which now has about 100 names, by identifying individuals who have shot people in the past, by talking to members of the community, and by tracking social media, among other means, reports Virginia Public Media. “One thing about these individuals is they love their guns, they love to post [online],” Armstead said. “We look at things like that as part of an investigative tool to track these individuals and apprehend them.”

“We’re going after those trigger pullers throughout the city, and especially in the Big Six,” Armstead said last week. (The Big Six refers to the city’s six housing projects.) So far, police have arrested at least 45 public housing residents and charged them with 188 felony counts and 138 misdemeanors.

That seems like a positive, proactive approach. Take lawbreakers off the streets for legitimate crimes and misdemeanors, and focus scarce resources on those posing the highest risk of violence. 

Of course, there’s always someone to object. VPM quotes Omari Al-Qadaffi, a community organizer with the Legal Aid Justice Center, as objecting to the focus on the housing projects, which are said to comprise 2% of the city’s land mass but 26% of its violent crimes.

Al-Qadaffi blames the Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority for “neglect” and allowing the projects to become concentrations of crime. The city has completed phase one of its redevelopment of the particularly notorious Creighton Court, which includes the demolition of 503 housing units and their replacement with a mixed-income neighborhood. In the transition period, the apartments are empty.

“I would expect that there would be more crime in a development that has half the units vacant,” Al-Qadaffi said. “I was getting a lot of reports about residents feeling that the vacant units around them did increase crime in the community.”

It would be preferable, Al-Qadaffi said, to implement gun-violence intervention programs and connect public housing residents with resources. One such program, Operation Ceasefire, according to VPM, supposedly has successfully reduced gun violence by between 25% and 60% in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and unnamed locales in California.

Bacon’s bottom line: Chicago? Color me skeptical. Sixty-five people were shot, five fatally, in Chicago just last weekend. Chicago is lawless. Calling the city the “wild west” would be an insult to the wild west.

If that’s all VPM found in the way of criticism, this sounds promising indeed. Perhaps city residents are getting desperate.

Police wouldn’t have undertaken this initiative — I’m just waiting for an ACLU lawsuit — without political cover from Mayor Levar Stoney. Early in his tenure as mayor, Stoney ran on a platform of solid, efficient governance — filling potholes, funding schools, and promoting redevelopment. During the George Floyd riots, he tacked sharply to the left rhetorically, replaced two police chiefs, and presided over a collapse in police morale and a severe depletion of police manpower. After violent crime exploded, including shootings of innocent bystanders, Stoney appears to be tacking back to the center. Less social justice and more law and order.

Whatever Stoney’s thinking, compiling the shooter list is a promising idea. For the good of city residents, let’s hope that it yields positive results. Even better if other cities learn from Richmond’s success.


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22 responses to “Richmond Police Unveil Anti-Violence Strategy”

  1. WOW – epiphany — ARREST the known criminals!

    Now, PUT THEM IN PRISON [as N2 corrected me] for the full length of each AND every charge — and NOT to be served concurrently!

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Bannon too?

      1. Lefty665 Avatar

        Schiff and Raskin too!

        1. don’t forget Fang Fang’s sugardaddy

        2. James McCarthy Avatar
          James McCarthy

          When were they found guilty of a crime? Oh, you mean Tom Cruise’s Minority Report. You understand the film depicted those crimes in 2054.

          1. DJRippert Avatar

            It does sound like the pre-crime unit.

          2. Lefty665 Avatar

            They’re both of them walking crimes against governance. But I guess it could be considered useful to have current examples of the old politician joke “You can tell he’s lying because his lips are moving”.

      2. How many people did Bannon shot?
        And don’t forget about Clapper and Brennan for lying under oath to Congress and the American people.
        And Holder for not showing up to discuss his program which resulted in the murder of a Federal officer….. but being Dems we know they won’t be held accountable.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Change tha “o” to an “i”, and the answer is millions!

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    Keeping track of folks… until.. they do something? 😉

  3. WayneS Avatar

    I’m sure there are no 4th Amendment issues involved when creating a “list” of people for the police to target based on neighborhood gossip and on-line hearsay.

    No issues at all…

    1. Lefty665 Avatar

      What could go wrong, people with no crime committed, guilt by association, gossip, speech?

      It is likely there is a small group of people in Richmond committing most of the gun crime. That’s certainly the way it is reported in D.C., Baltimore, Chicago and other cities.

      Quaint as it may seem locking them up for crimes they have actually committed might work. It might also encourage those who have not committed gun crimes to refrain from doing so.

    2. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      “In a Monday press conference, Major Ronnie Armstead, who is leading the initiative, said the list includes “violent people that are known to be shooters, even if they didn’t have a record.”

      I’m curious how one is known to be a shooter without a record. If they used a firearm in the commission of a crime they have been prosecuted as I’ve been lectured here before (I’m aware that regardless of that individuals statement, not all gun crime is prosecuted) they surely they were arrested.

      Gun crime should be met with mandatory state sentences coupled with Federal mandatory sentences that cannot be served concurrently.

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Had a friend named David McRae who did that for the Norfolk police (unofficially) back in the 70s. He went downtown following the drug dealers and pimps, documenting crimes, license plates, names, etc.

      Then one evening he walked into a bar on Granby Street, quietly pulled his 45 and plugged three or four of the biggest drug dealers in Norfolk. Headshots. One each. When a woman ran from the booth, he shot her in the heel.

      Turned his gun and ate one. The cops called his “diary” a treasure trove.

      Wow! Haven’t thought about David in a long while. Such a sad story.

      1. WayneS Avatar

        Damn. He was clearly a troubled soul.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Yeah, he had a bad experience one night in the Army. Had to kill a fellow soldier while on duty. Don’t really recall all the details, but it took the sweetest person I ever knew and screwed hi up royally.

          1. WayneS Avatar

            I am sorry. It sucks to lose a good friend.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Especially that way. You always wonder if you had only known, could you have said or done some small thing that would have made a difference.

            The funniest thing he ever did was show up where I worked with a starter’s pistol. He decided to show how loud it was and fired it in the front office. The idiot had loaded it with tear gas blanks. Drove us all out of the place. Doors open and fans running for hours and you still teared up when you walked in.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    This seems to be a good example of proactive police work.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      With some haunting throwbacks to the FBI surveillance of Southern black churches.

      Too much proactive police work is not a good thing. “Ve haf vays of makink you tok,” said the clocksmith.

      You might FOIA the DoJ for your own FBI file BEFORE you advocate for “proactive police work”. Remember that Andersen guy who used to OpEd at WaPo. His FBI file was 100+ pages of mostly redacted stuff.

    2. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      “Dick Hall-Sizemore • 18 hours ago
      This seems to be a good example of proactive police work.”

      Perhaps you should read the 4th Amendment.

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    “We’re going after those trigger pullers throughout the city, and especially in the Big Six,”

    I thought it was the firearm and not the index finger that was the problem. I hear the echoes of racial profiling all over again. The cycle starts again.

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