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Public-private partnership will fund five new 360º cameras to increase safety in Shockoe Bottom

Information gathered by the new cameras will be shared with a myriad of various organizations and businesses, including the Richmond Police and Fire Departments, the Department of Taxation, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and other Shockoe Bottom businesses.

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The Shockoe Partnership, Venture Richmond, and the Richmond Police Department announced today a public-private partnership to enhance safety in Shockoe Bottom by installing five 360-degree cameras.

The new cameras will serve the growing and diverse area, which has experienced tremendous growth in the past several years with the renovation of Main Street Station, the addition of the 1717 Innovation Center, the creation of the Virginia Capital Trail, and soon-to-be-reopened 17th Street Farmers Market.

Earlier this year, Richmond City Police Chief Alfred Durham suggested installing cameras in the area but cited the need for funding partners. Venture Richmond and The Shockoe Partnership offered to fund the safety initiative. The camera investment totaled $30,000 and was funded entirely by private money; the bill split between the Shockoe Partnership – a coalition of area business leaders committed to the preservation and enhancement of the historic Shockoe corridor – and Venture Richmond. The cameras will be maintained and utilized by the City of Richmond and the Richmond Police Department.

“Shockoe Bottom is one of Richmond’s most historically and culturally-rich neighborhoods,” said Brian White, president of the Shockoe Partnership and head of Shockoe-based development firm Main Street Reality. “It’s already one of the city’s fastest-growing areas, but there is still so much untapped potential. These cameras are just another step in reaching that.”

“For years, cameras have been used in many other cities as an important tool for public safety. We are happy to help bring them to the Bottom and make the Chief’s vision a reality,” said Brian Jackson, Chairman of Venture Richmond and a partner with Hirschler Fleischer. “Hopefully, this public-private partnership can be a model replicated by other neighborhoods in the City that could benefit from a similar program.”

In total, five state-of-the-art, high-definition cameras were installed and are located at the following intersections:

  • 17th Street and Main Street, observing north and east
  • 17th Street and Franklin Street, observing north and west
  • The 0000 block of 17th Street, observing the 17th Street Farmer’s Market and foot traffic from Walnut Alley
  • 18th Street and Main Street, observing north and west
  • 18th Street and Franklin Street, observing north and east

The five cameras to be installed will join a network of another eight that will be installed as part of the renovations to the 17th Street Market Plaza.

Information gathered by the new cameras will be shared with a myriad of various organizations and businesses, including the Richmond Police and Fire Departments, the Department of Taxation, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and other Shockoe Bottom businesses. The partnership hopes this will lead to greater coordination between local businesses and city and statewide organizations.

“I am pleased [with] how well we all worked together to make this happen,” said Richmond Police Department Chief Alfred Durham. “The enthusiastic support the RPD received from the Shockoe Partnership and Venture Richmond when I asked for funding for these safety cameras is (a) wonderful example of how public-private partnerships can work effectively to make our city safe.”

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Police make arrest in Chamberlayne Avenue homicide

At approximately 7:06 a.m. on January 3, officers were called to a motel in the 2600 block of Chamberlayne Avenue for the report of a shooting.

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The Richmond Police Department, with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service, has made an arrest in connection with a homicide on Chamberlayne Avenue that occurred earlier this month.

Gerard A. Hargrove, 44, of the 2900 block of Chamberlayne Avenue, was captured by the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force last week. He has been charged with murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. His booking photo is attached.

At approximately 7:06 a.m. on January 3, officers were called to a motel in the 2600 block of Chamberlayne Avenue for the report of a shooting. When police arrived, they found William O. Hurt down and unresponsive in a motel room. He had suffered an apparent gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with further information on this homicide is asked to call Major Crimes Detective M. Godwin at (804) 646-5533 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Crime

Data: More pedestrians are dying on Virginia’s roads

In 2018, 123 pedestrians died on the state’s roads — the highest death toll in a decade. Preliminary figures show that in 2019, at least 120 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the commonwealth.

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By Kelly Booth and Judi Dalati

On a Friday night in October, Katelyn Tilts was walking to a convenience store with a group of friends when she saw headlights coming at her.

“A car came around the corner really quickly and was swerving. The driver was swerving but started going directly at me and hit me head-on,” Tilts later told WTVR. “I remember thinking that it hurt so bad that I didn’t know how I would be able to make it until the ambulance got there.”

The hit-and-run incident left Tilts, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University, hospitalized and on crutches. She survived, but many pedestrians hit by vehicles do not.

According to data from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles, 123 pedestrians died on the state’s roads in 2018 — the highest death toll in 10 years.

Preliminary figures show that at least 120 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the commonwealth last year.

Not only are more pedestrians being killed, but they also are making up a greater proportion of all traffic fatalities:

  • In 2015, 10% of the people killed in roadway accidents in Virginia were pedestrians.
  • That figure jumped to 16% the following year. Last year, it was 15%, according to VDOT and DMV data.

“The vast, overwhelming majority of people who die on our streets are killed by drivers of cars,” noted Ross Catrow, executive director of RVA Rapid Transit, an advocacy group for regional public transportation.

“And the further sad truth is that these deaths and serious injuries often go unnoticed, underreported, and, even worse, usually nothing is done to build better streets and make them safer for people,” Catrow wrote on Streets Cred, his website about urban issues affecting mid-sized American cities.

Catrow has pointed out that some people say pedestrians are at fault for the rising number of traffic accidents. He rejects that notion.

“I’m so ultra-tired of engineers, elected officials and everyone else blaming ‘distracted pedestrians’ for the increase in injuries on our roads,” he said on his “Good Morning, RVA” podcast.

Catrow advocates traffic-calming measures such as painted curb bulbs and posts that can narrow intersections, increase visibility and slow down drivers to prevent pedestrian accidents.

Some people blame elderly drivers for causing accidents. But 25% of the motorists involved in traffic accidents that have killed pedestrians since 2013 were in their 20s — and half of them were under 40. About 22% of the drivers involved in pedestrian fatalities were 60 and older.

Ralph Aronberg, a traffic engineer consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said some people in their early 20s have poor driving habits.

“Drivers in that age group are more likely to use social media such as Instagram on their cellphone, are more likely to have groups in vehicles leading to distractions and are less likely to realize the consequences of taking their eyes off the road,” he said.

Aronberg, whose firm focuses on accident reconstructions, said people in their early 20s are also more likely to drive at night, drink and drive, or be under the influence of THC or other mind-altering substances while operating a car.

Pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in Virginia since 2013 have ranged in age from infants to 96. About a third of the victims were under 30; slightly over a third in their 40s and 50s; and the rest 60 or older.

Since 2013, Fairfax has had the most pedestrian deaths — more than 80, according to VDOT data. Then come Henrico County (43), Norfolk (40), Richmond (31) and Newport News (27).

The roads with the most pedestrian fatalities during that time period were:

  • Jefferson Avenue, Newport News — seven
  • Route 11, Washington County — three
  • South Street, Front Royal — three
  • Southbound Route 288, Goochland County — three
  • Chamberlayne Avenue, Richmond — three

Weather was not a factor in most pedestrian deaths.

“Most vehicle-pedestrian accidents happen in good weather,” said Daniel Vomhof, a traffic safety expert in California and a member of the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstructionists.

More than 85% of the pedestrian fatalities in Virginia happened in clear or cloudy weather conditions, the VDOT data showed. About 13% occurred in rain, mist or fog, and 1% in snowy weather.

To stay safe, Vomhof recommends that pedestrians wear white or reflective shoes at night and light-colored clothing that doesn’t blend in with the surroundings.

“Visibility increases when the object is in eye contrast to the background,” Vomhof said.

About the data in this report:

The data for this project was downloaded from the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Virginia Crashes | Virginia Roads website. It covers every vehicle crash in the state from 2013 to July of this year.

The data set contains more than 828,000 records. We filtered it for pedestrian accidents (about 11,000) and then for fatal pedestrian accidents (660).

We analyzed the data using Microsoft Excel, aggregating the data by locality, weather conditions and other columns in the spreadsheet.

We also used the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle’s online “Traffic Crash Data” tool to confirm and refine our analysis. We also ensured that the numbers were consistent with those published in the DMV’s report, 2018 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts.

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Crime

Police Looking for Suspect in Robberies in Carytown, Westover Hills, and Broad Street

Police believe the same individual robbed all three locations.

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Richmond police are looking for a suspect in a series of apparently related commercial robberies that happened Sunday night and early Monday.

Police said these three locations were robbed:

  • Jimmy John’s at 3314 W. Cary Street at 9:10 p.m. Sunday
  • Fasmart at 1201 Westover Hills Boulevard at 9:40 p.m. Sunday
  • 7-Eleven at 4601 W. Broad Street at 12:17 a.m. Monday

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