Gun-related injuries, violent crimes decrease in central Virginia

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:45 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Rates of gun-related injuries are on the rise in Virginia, according to a new dashboard from the Virginia Department of Health. That as murder and aggravated assault rates, often with firearms, are on the rise.

However, many of those trends are headed down in the central Virginia region.

VDH says trips to the emergency room due to gunshots have increased 72% since 2018. The Blue Ridge Health District saw a total of 46 people going to the ER with a gunshot wound that year, a 33% decrease.

“Our past relationships allow us to go out into these communities, contact with people, get to know everybody, get to deal with the kids, because we understand we have to saturate the community,” Bryan Page with BUCK Squad said.

BUCK Squad that works to reduce gun violence through de-escalation. The nonprofit’s executive director, Herb Dickerson, says the data backs up what he is seeing in the community. The Virginia State Police reports 44% of the time, a violent crime started as an argument that got out of hand. Additionally, victims knew their offenders more than 80% of the time in both murders and aggravated assaults.

“It’s a whole lot of rumors and stuff to start this type of thing, and they just feed it, you know?” Dickerson said.

Disparities persist across Virginia: From 2018 to 2021, 54% of gun violence victims treated at hospitals were Black. In 2018, 38% of victims of firearm violence were Black. In 2021, Black victims made up 65% of all gunshot patients.

“Everything is tied in to economics. You know, gun violence exists because of the poverty that we live in,” Page said. “All these things over the last 30 or 40 years has accumulated and produced what we see today.”

The Albemarle County Police Department has also been putting a new “geo-policing,” model to use. The county says this varied approach has made an impact on communities around the county.

“Geo-policing is a community-based policing model that allows officers to foster and strengthen relationships with the communities we serve,” ACPD said in a statement. “By using this model, our officers can adjust enforcement, community engagement, and patrol efforts to fit the needs and issues in individual neighborhoods.”

A link to the full crime reports can be found here.

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