10/18/2018, 6 a.m.
We call our readers’ attention to a well done report, “Witness to the killing,” published by the Washington Post on Wednesday that spotlights Richmond.
In it, Richmond is highlighted as an exception among 50 major American cities surveyed by The Post where witnesses come forward and cooperate with police to solve homicides.
According to The Post’s database, the Richmond Police Department had the highest homicide arrest rate — in more than 70 percent of cases since 2007 — thanks to people coming forward and testifying. Police said persistent community outreach efforts have helped forge that success.
The Post’s report focuses on the October 2016 homicide of Carmella “Diane” Winston, a 52-year-old bystander (and no relation to the Free Press managing editor) who, with her mother and young nieces and nephew, was delivering Sunday dinner to her uncle in Gilpin Court when a stray bullet came through the windshield of their parked car and killed her.
The report points to the brave action of one eyewitness, Kenneth Moore, who came forward and how the Richmond Police Department helped him and his family when others tried to retaliate two weeks after the murder trial.
According to the report, there were 22 homicides in the impoverished Gilpin Court public housing community and the surrounding blocks between 2007 and 2017. All but one of the victims was African-American. Police made an arrest in 18 of the cases.
The article, and its attendant video report, offer a behind-the-scenes look at what happened in the case, with interviews with the victim’s family, police investigators, Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham and the witness.
A link to The Post report is here: https:/wapo.st/2J6ejiU.
We laud all involved for bringing closure and justice in the Winston case and for telling their story to Washington Post journalists for the public to understand the process and see the importance of coming forward — for the victim’s family’s sake and for the benefit of Gilpin Court and other neighborhoods.
The report shows clearly how the cooperation of just a single witness can help the entire community.
We are grateful for the daily work of the Richmond Police Department to build bridges in the community to help solve violent crimes, and for the courage of witnesses coming forward. Yes, their actions greatly help Richmond to be a standout in the nation in clearing homicide cases.
What is needed next is support for the sustained efforts by Chief Durham, Mayor Levar M. Stoney and others to reduce the number of homicides that plague our community. That includes financial and other backing of after-school programs for young people; jobs programs for all people living on the margins; uplift for our impoverished neighborhoods; help for our crime solving and victim-witness assistance programs; and vision, energy and the political will to move toward change.
According to RPD data, there have been 39 homicides in the city this year as of Oct. 14. That is 17 fewer homicides than at this same time in 2017, when 56 people had been killed by homicide. That’s a 30 percent decrease.
With continued positive and focused efforts, we can keep the good news coming for Richmond.