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Chief Magnus Addresses Noise Violation - Police Newsletter Now Available

While we probably canít dissuade Dr. Hagler from moving to quieter pastures, we want to give credit to Chief Magnus who is moving to address the problem. See the chiefís letter to Dr. Hagler, below.

Also, attached is the July 2006 (and first!) of what will be an occasional newsletter from the Richmond Police Department about department activities, programs, and other public safety issues.  You are welcome to pass it on electronically or print it out and share it with anyone who might be interested.  If you or someone you know would like to receive future RPD newsletters, simply send an e-mail to smarch@richmondpd.net and include the e-mail address(es) we should send the newsletter to.

Dear Dr. Hagler,

I wish you well in your move and hope you find a new living environment that is quieter and healthier.  Unfortunately, even if you relocate in or around a community with far greater affluence, more police and public works employees, and stronger ordinances dealing with noise, litter, and blight, I suspect you will still be frustrated by the behavior and attitudes of people around you that reflect a basic lack of consideration for others.  I think this lack of consideration and respect for others is at the core of many problems we face in Richmond, but Iím afraid you will find it hard to escape this mindset no matter where you move. 

While I understand your frustration and disappointment with Richmondís apparent inability to satisfactorily address noise and other forms of pollution, I disagree that itís because of a lack of will or deliberate indifference.  Many of us inside and outside of government are working hard to change things in this cityóand we are doing so because we care, not just because itís our job or because weíve received complaints from the public.  If making these changes could be accomplished simply by passing a couple of new laws or writing tickets, weíd have solved our noise and crime problems by now and my life as police chief (and as a resident) of Richmond would be a lot easier.

We are, in fact, tackling the problems youíve mentioned in this, as well as your previous, e-mails on multiple fronts.  Here are some examples of this:

  • We are deploying officers geographically and assigning them to specific neighborhoods so they can be aware of, and concentrate on, specific crime and quality of life problems happening in Richmondís various neighborhoods.  We are holding officers and supervisors accountable for knowing what those problems are and for having plans in place to deal with them.  We are working to provide them with the training, equipment, and supervision they need to be successful.  What we cannot always provide them with at this point is time.  Assigning as few a 9 officers per shift to patrol the streets of Richmond makes it very difficult to both respond to calls and do responsive, proactive enforcement related to things like noise violations.  As our staffing levels improve, this will get better, but in the meantime, our attention to some of these problems is inadequate.  We know it is inadequate, so we are making our recruiting, hiring, and training processes a top priority.
  • We are training officers on noise enforcement.  This is being done through training bulletins, roll-call training, and information sharing.  Noise enforcement is part of our PTO program for new officers.  Iíve passed on many of the articles you sent me in past e-mails to my staff to discuss with their personnel.  We have also involved our city attorney in the training and education process related to noise.
  • I have asked the field commanders to expect more from their personnel in terms of noise enforcement, including tickets and arrests.  These numbers have steadily increased, particularly in neighborhoods where we get greater numbers of complaints.  In the past, there were virtually no tickets written by our personnel for loud car stereos or other noise violations.  This is no longer the caseóalthough I agree we can still do better.
  • We are working with individuals from several neighborhood associations to develop and distribute a flyer that describes various noise violations and the penalties associated with them.  We have had two meetings so far on this and expect a final product to be complete by sometime in August.  Officers and cadets will work with residents to help circulate these flyers in neighborhoods and other areas where noise is an ongoing problem.
  • One of the City Attorneys is helping us make several revisions to the Cityís noise ordinances to strengthen these ordinances.  We will bring these changes to City Council this fall.

I appreciate your efforts to educate and raise awareness on the issue of noise pollution and Iím sorry you leave Richmond with a greater sense of frustration than accomplishment.  The changes you desire here (and that exist elsewhere as well) will require time and continued hard work.  You have played an important part in the change process and your contributions have made a difference.  Best wishes to you in the future.

Chris Magnus

Richmond P.D.