Richmond Police explain substantial drop in violent crime

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Press Release Posted By Brandon Jarvis

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Attorney General Mark R. Herring and the Richmond Police Department today announced the significant results of the second launch of the award-winning “Respect Richmond” anti-violence campaign, which ran from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and saw a substantial drop in violent crime and gun violence in focus neighborhoods as well as millions of impressions and interactions with the campaign’s various messaging platforms.

Priority neighborhoods saw an average decrease of 50 percent in homicides and an average decrease of 30 percent in total violent crimes. The campaign used high-impact messaging and sophisticated marketing techniques to reach its audiences.

The “Respect Richmond” campaign initially ran from September 2017 through March 2018 and saw significant reductions in violent crime in the focus areas.

“‘Respect Richmond’ has shown to be an important tool in working to bring down violent crime rates across the city,” said Attorney General Herring. “One act of gun violence can ripple throughout many communities, which is why it is so important that we work to stop the cycle of violence before it starts.

I want to thank the City of Richmond for once again partnering with us on this initiative and I look forward to continuing to work together in the future to ensure every neighborhood in Richmond is a safe place to live, work and raise a family.”

“We are encouraged by the drop in violent crime in Richmond this year. People have a right to live without fear,” said Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham. “I want to thank to thank Attorney General Mark Herring for implementing the Respect Richmond campaign which uses cutting edge technology to deliver via social media appeals for tips when crimes occur right to the affected neighborhoods as well as thought-provoking messages to everyone think twice before resorting to violence. Because of efforts like this, the Richmond Police Department can continue to make great strides in reducing violent crime.”

“Richmond Police Department detectives rely on tips to help them solve crimes,” said Captain James Laino, head of the Richmond Major Crimes Unit. “The Respect Richmond appeals serve as timely reminders that encourage people to provide information that can help RPD detectives build their cases.”

Data shows that during the relaunch of the “Respect Richmond” campaign, violent crimes were down across the city compared to the year before, particularly in priority neighborhoods that were a focus of the campaign.

• All focus neighborhoods combined saw a:

• 50 percent decrease in homicides

• 41 percent decrease in robbery with a firearm

• 100 percent decrease in robbery victims shot

• 31 percent decrease in aggravated assault

• 34 percent decrease in aggravated assault with a firearm

• 57 percent decrease in aggravated assault victims shot

• 30 percent decrease in total violent crimes

• Creighton Court saw a 100 percent decrease in homicides and a 55 percent decrease in total violent crimes.

• Fairfield Court did not have any homicides during the campaign and had an 80 percent decrease in aggravated assault and a 50 percent decrease in total violent crimes.

• Gilpin Court had a 100 percent decrease in both homicides and robbery with a firearm as well as a 75 percent decrease in aggravated assault victims who had been shot.

• Whitcomb Court saw a 100 percent decrease in robbery victims who were shot and a 20 percent decrease in total violent crimes.

The innovative “Respect Richmond” campaign used a dedicated website and an innovative messaging push on social media, websites, and gaming networks. The digital ads usually shared a community engagement message until changing in real time to an anti-retaliation message in areas where violence had recently occurred. Ads were also strategically placed on websites, social media accounts, YouTube channels, billboards, movie theaters, and stores most likely to be seen by Richmonders at risk of being affected by gun violence.

During its three month relaunch, “Respect Richmond” garnered more than 5 million impressions, including more than 1.5 million digital impressions. Additionally, Richmond Crime Stoppers received nearly three times as many tips between June and September as compared to the same time period the year before.

The second phase of the “Respect Richmond” campaign included:

• RespectRichmond.com website – A one-stop-shop hosting all of the campaign’s materials, including videos, news updates, statistics, information on reporting crimes, and more;

• Digital Ads and Social Media Messaging – These ads appeared on gaming networks, social media and YouTube channels, and websites most likely to be seen or used by the Richmonders who need to hear these messages. The ads were tailored and focused on specific audiences in priority neighborhoods in response to an outbreak of violence. The campaign utilized multiple messages that focused on:

• Individuals at risk for committing or being a victim of gun violence

• Individuals at risk of retaliating with more violence

• The broader Richmond community

• Radio ads featuring prominent voices in the Richmond community;

• Strategically located billboards;

• Displays at convenience stores and other high-traffic establishments; and,

• Television ads.

Since its original launch last September, “Respect Richmond” has been the recipient of two awards: a Commonwealth Award in Public Service from the Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and a 2018 Excellence in New Communications Award in the Communications, Communities, and Collaboration category – Government division from the Society for New Communications Research.

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