Richmond violent and property crimes continue decline in 2014

Chief Magnus: Year-to-date Richmond crime down in nearly all categories

Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus had good reason to post “Holy Cow!” on his department’s Facebook page on Wednesday.

This week, the department’s crime analyst reported that both violent crimes and property crimes since Jan. 1 are down 26.7 percent from the same period last year, and that residential burglaries are down 50 percent.

In addition, the city has yet to record a homicide in 2014.

In 2003, there were a total of 9,026 property and violent crimes in Richmond, according to police data. In 2008, there were 6,712 and last year there were 5,464.

Last year, Richmond’s homicide total of 16 was its lowest in 33 years.

In January, the West County Times investigated the various reasons why crime in Richmond has declined in recent years. An influx of new police officers was cited, along with a focus on improving police-community relations and reducing gang activity. The downward direction of violent crime is also a national trend, the newspaper pointed out.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said prevention tactics have been key. We asked her to give us her take on the continued downward trend, and this was her response:

“There are multiple factors that can have an effect on crime rates dropping. Prevention is a big one. We have a very active crime prevention section of the Police Department. There are many tools that are used within this section such as flyers with prevention info and neighborhood council meetings attended by assigned officers who share tips and information. The crime mapping program that is on the Department website can help the community see what’s happening in their own neighborhood. Also, I believe the fact that we have not had any layoffs of officers and are continually hiring makes a difference. The relationship we have with the community has for sure improved over the past couple years and has opened the lines of communication when it comes to sharing information with each other. We have a lot of different programs involving many different people that provide services for all kinds of needs in the community.”