Richmond mayor calls for police crackdown after 9 deaths in 8 days

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After nine people died in the course of eight days, Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond, Va., has ordered city police Chief Alfred Durham to use “any legal means necessary” in an effort to curb gun violence.

At a news conference Tuesday, Stoney and other city leaders called for peace, as they outlined short- and long-term measures to deal with an increase in violence, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“My heart sinks every time I receive a phone call from Chief Durham early in the wee hours of the morning, because I know what that call means,” Stoney said.

Durham said he will assign two officers to patrol Gilpin Court on foot, a method that has had success in the past, the Times-Dispatch reported.

Gilpin Court is among four public housing locations where the most trouble has been seen, with police arresting a total of more than 700 people this year from those areas.

The motives behind the nine killings are unclear, but Durham indicated drug wars were likely to blame.

The city's anti-crime measures include installing more cameras inside public housing, as well as stricter lease enforcement that will punish those involved in illicit activity such as guns, drugs, or gangs with eviction, T.K. Somanath, CEO of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, told the Times-Dispatch.

Stoney cited “weak state gun laws” as a catalyst for the violence in Richmond, which has already seen 59 killings this year, compared to 67 killings — 61 of which Richmond police called homicides -- in 2016, the Times-Dispatch reported.