Skip to content

Police Chief Magnus visits Richmond Confidential

on November 6, 2011

Richmond Police Department Chief Chris Magnus and Captain Mark Gagan came to the Richmond Confidential newsroom Friday to discuss police-media relations and answer questions.

Magnus has been chief of the RPD since January 2006. He served as a cop in Lansing, Michigan for 18 years and then as the chief of police in Fargo, North Dakota for six years before coming to Richmond.

Gagan was promoted from a lieutenant to a captain last year, and is one of the RPD’s public information officers.

A hot topic of conversation was the tension between the police and the Office of Neighborhood safety following the fistfight that occurred in the ONS office last month. The ONS is known for its alternative crime-fighting techniques, such as enlisting “neighborhood change agents” to monitor the streets.

“There are some natural tensions between the way ONS folks do their job and the way we do our job,” Magnus said. “… That tension should have been dealt with earlier.”

Magnus said he’s working to help his force better understand the ONS’ goals and inner workings, particularly with the upcoming initiation of the Ceasefire, an ONS program that will require collaboration between the community and law enforcement to target at-risk youth.

Overall, Magnus said he has transformed his department quite a bit since he became chief six years ago.

“I view myself as a change agent and I think the community wanted change in the police department,” he said. “I think someone would say they don’t agree with all the changes … Many of [the cops] were very excited and continue to be very engaged in doing their jobs differently. Some, not so much. I get it and change is a hard thing.”

Magnus and Gagan also discussed CCTV cameras. When asked why they are unable to produce a map of every camera location, Magnus said releasing that information could be detrimental to the program’s effectiveness.

“We have a couple different purposes in mind,” he said. “One is that there will be locations where we want to place CCTV as a deterrent. It makes sense that the public knows it’s there because it’s a public deterrent. But we also … wanted it to be an enforcement tool as well.”

Magnus discussed his experiences as a Richmond resident, how Richmond is often portrayed in the media and various challenges his department faces. When asked if he thinks of himself as an exceptionally open-minded chief, Magnus smiled.

“Am I unusual? I don’t know,” he said. “I think there are other chiefs out there who are trying to do progressive things … Maybe [I’m] a little unconventional, but maybe not all that unusual.”

Other recent guest speakers at the Richmond Confidential newsroom include ONS Director DeVone Boggan and Vernon Whitmore, publisher of the Richmond Globe.

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Card image cap
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top