City Council had a packed agenda for this week’s meeting but spent most of the evening in conversation with community organizations and the Richmond police about preventing further violence in the city.
Councilmember Jovanka Beckles orchestrated the conversation, inviting the Richmond Police Department (RPD), Ceasefire, Office of Neighborhood Safety, Safe Return and the RYSE Youth Center to speak to the council. The invited groups gave presentations on the violence they have witnessed, their approach to helping community members cope with that violence, and the work they do to prevent it.
“In reducing violence in any city, it takes a holistic approach,” said Beckles. “We have to work together if we want to be effective in healing our city.”
RPD Chief Allwyn Brown gave an overview of violent crime for the year to date. He said the year’s first shootings happened in January, and that there has been an uptick since then. Gun violence spiked during the months of July and August, he said, and in August alone, RPD responded to 3 gun murders and 13 shootings and recovered 4 guns from individuals.
“The Richmond Police Department understands that partnerships and working with others is the way we gain the most traction and…that it creates the biggest impact,” Brown said.
Community organization members who presented at the meeting agreed that one of the most significant barriers to violence prevention was a lack of resources, such as therapists and acute medical services.
RYSE Executive Director Kimberly Aceves said that while the organization seeks to aid youth who have been wounded by gun shots or are experiencing trauma from violent incidents, the resources to help such youth are insufficient.
Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin said that community organizations have done much to reduce violence in the city and that she was optimistic about the potential to make the city even safer. She also said she would endeavor to find the necessary funds to augment their work.
“I’m going to be doing all I can to help expand on this because the work you are doing is approaching violence from its roots,” she said.
In other business, councilmembers briefly reviewed plans for a wayfinding program in the Marina Bay Community and moved a presentation on the Carlson Boulevard Crosstown Connection pedestrian and bicycle improvements project to the next meeting, which will be held on Nov. 29.