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Mayor talks about Richmond’s rising murder rate

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones said he expected the city’s 2012 homicide rate to increase past that of 2011. The mayor and police chief addressed this issue during a Tuesday press conference.

In 2011 there were 39 murders in Richmond. There have been 35 murders so far in 2012. Eleven of those murders happened in September.

“In September we had 11 homicides in our city – the highest that we’ve seen in a month since 2006,” the mayor said. “We are tracking at a pace that indicates we will likely see an increase in our overall annual homicide rate by the end of this year.”

The mayor said it did not appear the murders were related to “organized gang or drug activity.” He added nine of September’s 11 murders took place in the city’s first police precinct, an area that stretches from the East End along the James River to South Side. Neighborhoods in that area include Oak Grove and Blackwell.

“Part of our strategy for abating conditions in that precinct will be the deployment of additional resources to that area,” the mayor said. “You will see a greater presence of police officers working with that community. We will also be working with our law enforcement partners from the state and federal governments, as well as our partnering jurisdictions in the counties to protect our communities, save lives and deter crimes.”

The mayor would not go into detail about the tactics the city planned to use but Police Chief Bryan Norwood said it would include increased visibility as well as federal resources.

Four of the eleven murders happened within walking distances of one another near Oak Grove. Residents there say they hope for an increase in police presence.

 “I think this mindset starts at home,” Michael Cole, who works in the area, told CBS 6. 

“You definitely watch your surroundings more, you watch yourself,” Cole added.

Police Chief Norwood says more cops will be deployed to that area.

“We have to go to where the crime is and the area we spoke about it is where we are going to be,” Norwood said.

Many wonder if Norwood’s job is potentially on the line because of the increase in homicides.

We asked the mayor if he still had confidence in Chief Norwood and police leadership. 

“I just told you these crimes are being cleared at an accelerated rate, that we are beating the national average of crimes being cleared. Police are doing a great job and the Chief is leading the Police Department,” Mayor Jones said.

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