Richmond, Virginia

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

Richmond, Virginia

BCJI Funding Year: FY2018

BCJI Awardee: Richmond Office of the Attorney General of Virginia

Research Partner: Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Urban and Regional Analysis

Focus Area: Greater Gilpin Housing Development - Population 2,722

Challenges: Juveniles, Violent Crime, Transportation 

Neighborhood Characteristics

Gilpin Court is located in the City’s Northside.  It is the oldest and largest public housing neighborhood in Richmond, completed in 1943.  It is situated near the heart of downtown but is physically isolated from the rest of the city’s resurgence by Interstates 95 and 64, which creates a border running the entire west and south sides of the community. The community is located less than three miles from other high crime and public housing communities (Highland Park, Mosby Court, and Creighton). It has become a central location for outside criminal activity, drug sales, gun violence, and neighborhood rivalries. Richmond Police Department (RPD) considers Gilpin to be located in one of the most violent areas of the city with a long history of distrust and violence between residents, police, and other public housing communities. In 2017, Sector 411 had 15% of the city’s violent crime, and Gilpin Court had the highest number of violent crime incidents of any neighborhood in the city. Community feedback and police data suggest that concentrated poverty, high unemployment, substance abuse, and illegal drug sales are some of the primary drivers of crime here.   

Gilpin meets the definition of a distressed community. However, it does have a rich history with several community assets.  These assets include the Gilpin Court Tenants Council which meets monthly to plan community events and activities;  the  Calhoun  Family  Investment  Center; Richmond City Health District Clinic, located in the Calhoun Center; Strategies to Elevate People (STEP) afterschool and jobs program; Parks and Recreation; Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) located in Gilpin; and Richmond Police Department (RPD).

Planning Phase

The goals of this BCJI project are to reduce crime, increase mutual trust, and improve community safety as part of a comprehensive plan to rebuild the Gilpin Community and spur revitalization. Guiding the project will be the BCJI Steering Committee, which is made up of key partners that have been meeting for over a year. They have held focus groups, conducted surveys, and met weekly to solicit feedback, identify priorities, and build the necessary infrastructure for effective community and resident partnerships. The Committee has grown to include many non-profit organizations, government entities, and community leaders previously operating independently to address many longstanding challenges and community issues but have agreed to collaborate to tackle problem properties, unsafe streets, unemployment, transit barriers, and service gaps related to crime.  

Committee members and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) will work with BJA and the IACP to develop a comprehensive implementation blueprint to reduce crime. This will include data analysis, research findings, and a plan that articulates the range of strategies that the BCJI partners will use to reduce crime and create opportunities for the Gilpin Community. Objectives developed in the Planning Phase include:

  • Objective #1. To decrease homicides in Gilpin Court by 50% by September of 2021 

  • Objective #2. To reduce the combined number of homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies with a firearm in Gilpin Court by 25% by September 2021 

  • Objective #3. To improve/increase community trust of law enforcement by the first full year of implementation in Gilpin Court by 20% by September 2021 

  • Objective #4 is to increase employment by 10% for youth and adults in Gilpin Court by September 2021 

Other Key Partners

Richmond Managing Eastern District Assistant, United States Attorney in charge of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the Attorney General of Virginia, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, the Richmond Police Department Chief of Police, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Richmond Mayor’s Office, Gilpin Courts Tenants Council, Calhoun Investment Center, Parks and Recreation.

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues

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