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Anti-crime Effort Seeks Help

The effort is crucial, says Rick Tatnall, executive director of the group, particularly in the wake of the city’s recent onslaught of homicides and the Memorial Day weekend mayhem.

As of June 7, there had been 45 homicides in Richmond, according to Richmond Police. That’s up 15 percent from the same time period last year. (A 46th homicide is being investigated by Virginia Commonwealth University Police.)

“We support any activity that enhances our ability to do our jobs,” Richmond Police Maj. Daniel A. Goodall says of the impact communities can make when they work in partnership with police to prevent and report crime. “We can’t do this alone,” he stresses.

The citizens’ group will act as a “volunteer placement service,” Tatnall says, connecting its members with citywide programs, agencies and organizations that combat crime and crime-related issues. Think of it as the Homeward — the city’s clearinghouse for homeless-services providers — equivalent for public safety.

Increasingly, anticrime efforts in Richmond have emerged. There is the city’s Community Assisted Public Safety (CAPS) initiative, the City Manger’s Comprehensive Strategy for Public Safety, the Community Crime Control Plan, Richmond Public Schools’ Task Force for Safe and Nurturing Schools, to name a few.

“We want to make sure there isn’t duplication of efforts,” Tatnall says.

Money raised by his group will be used to fund its own crime-fighting drives, operational expenses and a variety of anticrime programs.

The group plans to have five components: a volunteer-placement program, a database of all assistance programs in Greater Richmond, as well as community-patrol, victim-counseling and youth programs.

Rasin is widely known for her on-the-scene counseling. Now she’s expanding that role. “She’s now. I’m later,” Tatnall explains of Rasin’s dedication and his plans to promote the group’s long-term efforts — especially those geared to prevention.

This fall, for example, the group will set up a “Community Café” for students and teachers at George Wythe High School. It will operate in the school’s cafeteria and serve as an after-school program where kids and adults can go for resources or to simply hang out.

“I think being in the schools is really where you start to fight crime,” Tatnall says of the importance of education and outreach to stop violence before it starts. — Brandon Walters

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