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The building blocks of a better community

on April 2, 2010

When Capt. Allwyn Brown speaks about public safety, he conveys the quintessentially modern crime fighter.

Data-driven, multi-faceted and, especially, emphatic about the role that residents play as partners in the efforts to build a safer community.

“The job of policing is a shared responsibility,” Brown said. “It’s supposed to be a responsibility and a partnership between the police and the communities they serve.”

Brown spoke during an interview for UC Berkeley’s North Gate Radio, a program of the Graduate School of Journalism.

The interview was conducted in the outdoor plaza at City Hall during a March 6 anti-violence rally that drew nearly 1,000.

Brown, in uniform and on duty, was heartened by the outpouring, which was prompted by a Feb. 14 shooting in a local church.

Brown exchanged smiles and handshakes with residents and several times pulled out his own hand-held camera to snap photos of the event.

“You know I’m really excited, and it’s really a great thing to see so many people turn out for this event,” Brown said.

The city’s long and well-chronicled struggles with crime continue, but have shown signs of easing, despite the period of economic strains both on the city services and the local communities.

The Police Department has 179 sworn officers, according to Sgt. Bisa French. Seven officer positions are currently open and unlikely to be filled this year due to budget constraints, French said.

But, despite some high-profile crimes in recent months, overall crime is trending slightly downward, continuing the trajectory of recent years.

According to department statistics through March 1, overall violent crime is down 7 percent this year compared to the same period last year.

The city has suffered 10 homicides this year.

Brown, a longtime veteran who earned his stripes patrolling Richmond’s streets, said he is encouraged by the energy he sees in the community.

“People really are interested in what’s going on in their neighborhoods, and they want to step up and take an active role in making things get better,” Brown said.

20100402_allwynbrown.mp3|click here|Police Captain Allwyn Brown.

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