Homicide Rate Bottoms Out in Richmond

Murder rate in East Bay city hits 11-year low

By Chris Roberts
|  Wednesday, Dec 26, 2012  |  Updated 4:37 PM PDT
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The most-deadly no longer. For now.

The homicide rate in Richmond has hit an 11-year low, according to the Contra Costa Times. As of Monday, 18 people were dead from homicides in the East Bay city, the lowest total since 18 people died in 2002. The 11-year high was 47 murders in 2006, a feat nearly equaled by 2009's 45 homicides, the newspaper reported.

So what's working? A lot of things, including new-fangled police work, funds and efforts specifically dedicated to eradicating violence, and pure old-fashioned luck, the newspaper reported.

First, the police. Richmond has 190 officers, up from 150 in 2006, the newspaper reported. More cops does not always equal less violence, but in this instance, the additional badges are engaging in "community-policing models" and have a "violence-prevention office," the newspaper reported.

The public has also demanded violence-prevention programs, a result of the 2005 community meeting when "hundreds" of residents, furious and fearful over a recent spate of violence that left eight dead, demanded the City Council take action. Over the next few years, the city freed up "millions of dollars" for "crime prevention initiatives and police funding," the newspaper reported.

Volunteers go "door to door" by streetlight in the city's roughest and toughest neighborhoods, like the infamous Iron Triangle, and the Office of Neighborhood Safety has identified 50 young men as "potential violent offenders" -- and has offered them education, jobs, and counseling in return for peace, the newspaper reported.

But some veteran cops and other watchers warn that crime goes in waves and can "ramp up at any moment," the newspaper reported. The 2009 killing total was in part sparked by a group of teens with laser-sighted assault weapons, known as the "Beam Team," the newspaper reported.

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