- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Homicides have slowed in Virginia’s capital, while arrests of suspected killers are on the rise.

According to statistics compiled by the police department for the first three months of 2005, there were 19 homicides in the city through March 31. That is a 27 percent reduction compared with the 26 homicides recorded in the city during the same period in 2004.

Detectives have made arrests in 11 of the 19 homicides, for a 58 percent “clearance” rate. During the same time last year, the clearance rate was 27 percent.

In addition, police said they also have made arrests in eight homicide cases from previous years.

“We’re allowing our detectives to focus on homicides alone, versus mixing other cases in there,” Police Chief Rodney Monroe told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“The quicker you can get a homicide suspect locked up, the greater the chances are in possibly preventing a homicide,” he added. “Preventing either that suspect becoming a victim, or that suspect killing again.”

Richmond has been plagued by drug crime and has had nearly 100 homicides annually in recent years.

Chief Monroe arrived in February from Macon, Ga., and quickly reorganized the department’s investigative division. Investigation of certain property crimes and robberies was reallocated to detectives in the city’s four police precincts.

But the biggest change involved the violent-crimes unit, which was separated into two distinct teams, one of which was assigned exclusively to homicides and life-threatening aggravated assaults.

On the patrol side, precinct commanders have been given more responsibility for their coverage areas.

So far, enforcement efforts have been concentrated in four crime-prone sectors of the city: Jackson Ward, Gilpin Court, Highland Park and the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor.

“When you increase police presence in neighborhoods, you more directly address the issues of citizens, and they’re less likely to call,” Chief Monroe said. “We’re looking to spread that throughout the city.”

The chief also said increased involvement from the community has contributed to the department’s recent crime-fighting successes.

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