There’s no single cause for the violent crime in Richmond, so there’s not one simple solution. Violence is not a new problem for our city and plans to deal effectively with it will take time and lots of work by everyone.
We have multiple strategies underway at the Police Department to reduce violent crime. Many are already having a positive impact, but almost all of them require community support, adequate resources, and perhaps most importantly—time. Here is just some of what we’re working on. The Richmond Police Department plan to reduce violence in our community:
Improve communication and build relationships between neighborhood residents and the police officers who work in their neighborhoods. This is done by assigning officers from each shift to specific geographic beats every day. Officers and supervisors get to know their beats, including neighborhood groups, schools, businesses, and churches. It means officers work with residents to prevent crimes, reduce blight, and solve problems related to traffic, public safety, and quality of life. It also means officers become familiar with individuals involved in criminal behavior, as well as with parolees, probationers, and the registered sex offenders. Violence can’t thrive in neighborhoods where the police and the public have a strong partnership.
Track crime and violence through better and more timely crime data. Police managers and officers will be able to use data about crime trends, “hot spots,” and criminal suspects to patrol more strategically. Starting later this fall, the department will have access to this data through new technology we have been working on since spring. Crime mapping will help officers and citizens see what’s happening in each beat throughout the city to best deploy available resources.
Focus on juveniles. We have significantly increased our presence in the schools and we are working closely with the school district to implement a truancy reduction program. Starting this fall, we will be doing regular “truancy sweeps” to get kids back in school. We are also looking at ways to deal more effectively with kids who are out on the streets late at night where they become easy targets for violence and gang activity. This includes more initiatives that involve R-PAL and other service providers.
Put more resources into solving violent crimes, especially homicides. Every time we clear a homicide case or other violent crime, we send a message that if you commit one of these crimes in Richmond, YOU WILL GET CAUGHT. We are clearing these cases through better networking with residents, coordinated enforcement efforts with state and federal crime task forces, increased intelligence gathering related to gangs and crime suspects, and improved training for officers.
Implement the use of closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV) in key areas of the city to identify suspects, gather leads, and discourage individuals from committing crimes. We believe this can be done in a manner which safeguards Constitutional rights and civil liberties, while protecting neighborhood residents and others from street-level violence. CCTV is not an easy or perfect solution by itself, but it can help deter crime and blight.
Explore the use of injunctive orders to keep gang members and other chronic law- breakers out of areas where they currently use the public streets and sidewalks to commit crimes and terrorize neighborhoods. This has been a successful strategy in several other California cities where it has yielded positive results towards reducing street-level violence. We are currently working with the City Attorney’s Office on this project.
Refer as many individuals as possible caught committing gun crimes or who possess illegal firearms for federal “Trigger Lock” prosecutions. Federal prosecutions can result in longer sentences for convicted individuals and they are typically served in remote locations.
Increase our commitment to traffic enforcement. More traffic stops mean more contacts that can lead to arrests, searches, and gun confiscations. Traffic enforcement also means safer streets for all motorists and pedestrians.