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Spike in violent crime in Richmond brings comparisons to Chicago

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RICHMOND, Va. – In the first 36 days of 2017, violent crime is up 25 percent in Richmond, a statistic city police aren't proud of, but it’s something they are working to combat.

Already in 2017, South Richmond resident Jasmine Miles has seen home invasions, shootings, stabbings, robberies and murders close to her home.

"I’m already in this area and I could potentially have children and bring them into this environment,” Miles said. “It’s scary. It makes me not even want to procreate.”

Police said they are trying to slow down the bloodshed that led to the spike in crime.

Violent crime

"Any shootings, violent crime, or homicide is one too many,” said Deputy Chief Steve Drew. “We saw a spike in homicides last year and that is not going to be our new norm. We are not going to accept that.”

The trend of violence from 2016 spilled into the New Year. There have already been nine murders in 2017, and if something doesn't change, Richmond is on pace for 108 in total.

For residents on Facebook comparing the city's violence to a “mini-Chicago,” CBS 6 asked Richmond Police how farfetched that premise really is -- with Chicago's crime up by just 24 percent.

“The percentage is close, but the population is very, very different,” said Deputy Chief Drew. “The numbers in a smaller city make a bigger influence on the percentage rate, for sure."

Deputy Chief Steve Drew

Deputy Chief Steve Drew

Police said they aren't in the fight alone.

"Just the other day I saw a guy run across the street with a big gun,” said Vinay Gideon.

That’s the kind of information which helps police, who said they rely on Richmond residents to help clean the streets by supplying information.

One rate police would like to see increase is the rate of crime-solved cases.

"When we get homicides in our city, a lot of people come forward and they want to share information, but when we see shootings, we don't get so much of that,” said Drew. “We get individuals, victims of those shootings that want to take matters into their own hands or get their friends to handle it, we get the retaliation."

"When we see those things, we get neighborhoods against neighborhoods and innocent people between those things," Drew added.

Out of the nine homicides this year, Deputy Chief Drew says RPD's violent crime unit has good information on criminals who may have been involved, and said they're building the case in some of those homicides. One homicide has been closed this year.

Drew said he hopes the news about arrests in those cases could be out by the end of this week.