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Anticrime Plan Takes Center Stage

On Nov. 20 the City Council Public Safety Committee will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. at Armstrong High School, 1611 N. 31st Street. The following two days, Nov. 21-22, City Council will meet for its annual retreat to discuss, review and implement its position on everything from public safety to economic development.

Jamison says the whole story hasn’t been told.

“Crime overall in the city — major crime — is down 4 percent,” Jamison says. “What we’ve seen is an increase of violent crime that leads to murder.” Jamison insists the city will reverse the murder trend, adding that it is largely cyclical.

Some critics of Jamison have expressed skepticism that the city’s crime plan is more rhetoric than action.

“There is concern people should have,” Jamison responds, “but they should also have confidence that we’ll turn it around, and we will. Our real challenge is, once we reduce it, how do we sustain that over time?” Prevention, prosecution and rehabilitation are three of the ways for the city to do this, he says.

Recently, Jamison presented City Council with his “Annual Progress Report Fiscal Year 2003.” It became the basis for why he received a 3 percent raise. In the portion that reflects his role with public safety and the police, two percentages are given and two types of crimes mentioned. Rape crimes are down 10 percent, it says. Likewise, simple assault cases have dropped by 22 percent. When asked why there’s no mention of the escalating homicides or violent crimes, Jamison says, “The numbers weren’t there.”

Now he says the crime issue needs to be addressed with a comprehensive effort. That’s what he and Richmond Police Chief André Parker outlined last week with “Combating Crime in Richmond: The Real Story.” The report points out that in the last 33 years, the city has had an average of 85 homicides a year.

In addition to the report, Jamison has requested that the city create an anticrime advisory panel. He has partnered with Virginia State Police in some situations and has pledged to send city employees out into diverse streets and neighborhoods to identify what’s provoking crime. He’s also stressed the need for curfew patrol and more visible probation officers. — Brandon Walters

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