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On murder in Richmond (1971-2010)

No one was killed in Richmond in June 2010. Going back to at least 1980, Richmond has only had three months without any homicides. Each of these quiet months has come in the last 8 months, and 2 of them have come in 2010.

Murder in Richmond, VA 1971-2009


Until 2008, 1981 had seen the fewest killings in Richmond since 1971 (with a count of 51). The number started rising in the mid-1980s and jumped to 100 in 1988. The yearly toll stayed over 100 for 10 straight years, hitting 161 in 1994 and 140 in 1997. The count dipped back into the 70s, jumped towards 100 in 2004, and has fallen dramatically the past 3 years. The historic low of 36 was achieved in 2008, with 2009 close behind with 41. This drop has given Richmond something previously unseen: the month without any homicides.

In the first 28 years for which there is monthly data available, there was not a month in Richmond without someone being killed. Last year (2009), with 41 killings, saw no homicides in November – the first month since at least 1980 with no killings. Since then, Richmond has also had the quiet months of February 2010 and June 2010. After going 28+ years without a break, the city has seen no murders in 3 of the last 8 months. In the past 366 months, only 3 have passed without a killing, and all 3 have come in the last 8 months.

On the way to a devastating body count of 161, 1994 saw 2 months with over 20 killings, and only one month in the single digits. The violence peaked in August 1994 when 25 killings left someone dead almost every day of that month. There were more people killed in July and August of 1994 than in all of 2008. There were more murders that April than in the first 6 months of 2010. There were more murders that year than in 2007, 2008, 2009, and the 1st half of 2010 combined. It was rough, to say the least.

So far in 2010, Richmond has seen 19 murders (6 of which have come in the East End). This is the best start to a year for the 30 years that monthly records are available — ahead even each of the last 2 record-low years at this date, and a whopping 59 better than 1994′s count of 79 at the end of June.

Murder count by month 1971-2010(PDF)


The Richmond Police were able to provide a chart showing the killings per month covering the years 1980-2004. The RPD’s online Crime Incident Information Center and the Richmond-Times Dispatch’s online Homicide Report have data for the following years, and RVA News has information for 2009 and 2010.

I would like to further look into which areas of Richmond have seen these amazing drops in violence over the past decades, but the data required isn’t readily available. The Richmond Police Department has said that they can get the data, but that it will cost between $2,500-$3,000 to pull together the pre-1998 information (as it not held electronically). This is way outside of my capability to self-fund. If anyone reading this has a compelling interest and a happy checkbook, please contact me.

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