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This new technology could help Richmond police fight violent crime

RICHMOND, Va. -- City leaders are considering a new tool that could help officers crack down on crime in some Richmond neighborhoods plagued by violence.

The news comes as violent crime in the city ticks up compared to last year.

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham released figures on recent crime trends and homicides during a news conference Friday.

“The attitude of the violent offenders in this city is that they don't fear the criminal justice system," Durham said.

So far in 2017 there were 132 shooting victims compared to 105 this same time last year. Twenty-eight resulted in homicides for both years.

While there’s a continued focus to fight crime, the lingering question is how to most effectively prevent it.

Richmond city leaders are looking at one crime fighting tool called “Shot Spotter” in hopes of deterring violent crime, especially in public housing neighborhoods where police said violence is getting worse.

“Shot Spotter” crime fighting system.

“Shot Spotter” crime fighting system.

The system allows police to respond immediately to the exact location where gunshots were fired in real time illustrating the danger faced in those neighborhoods.

Ninety cities across the country, including Washington, D.C. have been using the technology. That city captured 9,000 incidents of gunfire in 2009.

Officials said that number has dropped by 40-percent in recent years and that homicides have declined sharply.

That is why Durham wants to implement it in Richmond.

“You have to use technology," Durham explained. "It affords us the opportunity to close cases, identify suspects and brings folks to justice."

Richmond City Council approved $235,000 in the 2017 budget for the technology, but there have been no specifics as to when and where the system would be implemented.

Surveillance cameras have been posted in Richmond's public housing communities, but officials hope "Shot Spotter" would take crime fighting to another level.