- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Officials in Richmond say a shortage of patrol officers is hampering their efforts to curb a spike in homicides that has reached a 10-year high.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/2fXbdCo) reported Saturday that Virginia’s capital has recorded 59 homicides this year. That’s the highest since 2016, when there were 81. It’s a 40 percent increase over the 2015 total.

Chief Alfred Durham is seeking money to bolster a police force that is 94 sworn officers short of its authorized strength of 750.

Learned Barry, the deputy commonwealth’s attorney, says the staffing shortage is acute among patrol officers. They are the department’s first line of defense against gun crimes, which account for 90 percent of the homicides.

Barry says patrol officers catch gun cases and get illegal weapons off the street.

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