Safety

City Council candidates weigh in on how to make Richmond a safer place to live

For Richmond resident Rasmo Moses, ‘public safety’ is the absence of litter from the street corner near his house.  For Leslie Townsend, it is “having more options than calling a gun to the scene.” For Kelbin Guterres, the concept means clean air and water and a protected natural environment.  And for Josue Contreras, it’s about ensuring everybody feels safe walking down the street.  For the seven candidates running for the three available City Council seats in the election next month,…

Richmond gets $6 million to tackle rising gun violence

Aiming to curb gun violence before it begins, the California Violence Intervention & Prevention Grant Program recently awarded $6 million to Richmond. Allocated by the Office of Neighborhood Safety, the money will support education and life skills programs, employment training, street outreach and stipends for would-be offenders of violent crime. Those programs fall under the office’s Operation Peacemaker, which will receive about a third of the grant money.  Operation Peacemaker launched an 18-month fellowship program in 2010 that incentivizes those…

Juveniles arrested, investigation ongoing in Richmond school break-ins

Police have arrested four juveniles and are looking for others who they say are connected to break-ins at five West Contra Costa Unified School District buildings last month, smashing windows and electronics and ransacking classrooms.  The juveniles who were arrested late in July and early this month ranged in age from 12 to 16 years old, said Sgt. Aaron Pomeroy of the Richmond Police Department. He said police are still gathering evidence and working to identify other suspects.  Richmond Police…

Richmond police say pay increase needed to recruit, retain officers

The Richmond Police Department is struggling to recruit and retain officers, leading to forced overtime and burnout. It’s a problem that departments across the country are facing, as widespread police brutality cases have highlighted systemic problems. Adding to that in Richmond are a labor dispute and the absence of the department’s chief for nine months.  The Richmond Police Officers Association has been in contract negotiations with the city since December. The current contract expired on June 30. Ben Therriault, RPOA…

Mental health team will now handle some 911 calls in Contra Costa County

Mental health emergencies account for more than 1 in 10 of the 911 medical calls in Contra Costa County. A new program will now address those calls with crisis teams that include behavioral health professionals. This week, Contra Costa Health Services unveiled the Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime program, which will get clinicians involved in accessing medical calls and determining when a crisis response team is needed. The county is now hiring for the A3 pilot program, with plans to have the…

Boxes, buckets, Buicks and Chevies: Sideshows are at a crossroad

Tires screech and cars dance on the streets of Oakland as sideshow culture fills the air, along with the smell of burning rubber.   Originating in Oakland in the 1980s, sideshows have gained traction in the Bay Area, exciting audiences, frustrating motorists and irritating police. Oakland recently unveiled a bold plan to crack down on sideshows, which are classified as reckless driving and punishable as a misdemeanor. Richmond City Council recently took action to deter sideshows. And a state law signed…

Police Chief French put on administrative leave amid investigation

Richmond Police Chief Bisa French was put on leave Wednesday, after being accused in court documents of attacking a relative and threatening to kill a man. French’s husband, Oakland police Sgt. Lee French, also was put on leave, pending an internal investigation. A family member requested restraining orders against Bisa and Lee French on Oct. 7, according to Contra Costa County court records. A hearing is set for Oct. 25. In court documents, an 18-year-old relative accused the Frenches of…

Biden gives shout out to Richmond crime prevention program, citing it as model

When President Joe Biden introduced his crime-prevention strategy to reporters in late June, he highlighted the community intervention efforts that DeVone Boggan launched in Richmond in 2010 and encouraged other cities to invest in such programs. Boggan, former director of Richmond’s Neighborhood Safety Office, started the Advance Peace nonprofit five years ago to introduce his Peacemaker Fellowship program to other cities. The program is similar to Ceasefire and Cure Violence in that it addresses the root causes of gun violence….