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Richmond Wins 2007 Murder Competition

Thefat that Richond led the state in homicides in 2007 is old news, but it’s what people are reading in today’s paper – see below. The good news is that in 2008, crime is significantly down in Richmond. See Crime Reduction in Richmond and RPD Activities, April 8, 2008, and the May 12 story from the West County Times below.

Richmond leads per-capital murder rate in California

The Associated Press

Article Launched: 06/10/2008 10:37:47 AM PDT


RICHMOND, Calif.—A new FBI report shows that violent crime in the San Francisco Bay area's biggest cities fell slightly last year after two years of increases.

Violent crime was only down 0.3 percent in 2007, lower than the statewide decrease of 3.2 percent. Property crimes such as burglaries and thefts were down more than 4 percent in the Bay Area.

The report shows that Richmond topped the state with the highest per-capita homicide rate of cities with at least 100,000 people. Richmond had 47 homicides in 2007—the most in this decade.

Oakland, meanwhile, saw a dramatic drop in killings—from 145 in 2006 to 118 last year.


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

Crime down in Richmond

By Karl Fischer
West County Times

Article Launched: 05/12/2008 03:37:46 PM PDT

Parolee Lorenzo Hutson scurried off the corner of Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, unnerved by abrupt recognition of the patrol car gliding up beside him.

"I think he might run," Richmond police Officer Tom Hauschild said quietly.

Hutson might have thought so, too, but that idea lasted just a few steps up a nearby driveway. The lanky parolee saw who sat behind the wheel. A pensive expression washed across his face, the look of a man who suspects he's jail-bound.

"That you, Hauschild?" the 25-year-old asked tentatively. "Guess I'm going, aren't I?"

Answer: Yes.

Hutson went to jail Thursday afternoon, suspected of violating his parole.

Specifically, he went because his girlfriend keeps calling his parole officer, complaining about his behavior. And he went because Hauschild spent most every work day the past two years patrolling this section of central Richmond, learning all about Hutson, his neighbors, his family, his neighborhood.

He knows their names, and he knows their mommas. And, more often than not, he knows their baby-momma drama — far more than enough familiarity to pick them out of the scenery from blocks away.

"You just can't keep messing with that girl," Hauschild said as they drove to the city jail, a note of sympathy filtering through his voice.

Department officials credit the coziness of Richmond's community oriented patrol-beat scheme, in part, with a 20 percent plunge in serious crime during the first four months of 2008 compared with the same period last year. That includes a 16.8 percent drop in violent crime.

"I think the numbers show the real benefit to the police-community partnership," police Chief Chris Magnus said. "And it seems like in every neighborhood of the city ... we're seeing people become more attentive to crime, and working more with each other and the police on it."

Endemic street violence continues to trouble flatland neighborhoods. Department data show that emergency calls to report gunfire climbed 3 percent, and homicide detectives have investigated 12 killings this year, compared with eight at the same time in 2007.

But crime in Richmond decreased in every other statistical category the department tracks, from aggravated assault (down 10.4 percent) to robbery (down 23.3 percent) to auto theft (down 21.83 percent).

"There are a number of variables that have all kind of come together. Some of them are obviously attributable to entering a second solid year of Chief Magnus' neighborhood beat-policing philosophy," said Capt. Allwyn Brown, who supervises the patrol in central Richmond. "In 2008, we were able to keep the vast majority of beat officers on the same beats. That makes a difference."

The central policing district, which includes the Iron Triangle, Belding Woods and Shields-Reid neighborhoods, perennially bears the brunt of much of Richmond's crime, particularly violent crime. But through April 22, data show no homicides in those neighborhoods and a 45 percent year-over-year drop in assault, along with a 44 percent plunge in reported robberies.

Not all neighborhoods have improved. Richmond's south side suffered through early-year retaliatory shooting patterns and on April 22 accounted for eight of the city's killings, twice as many as the previous year. Aggravated assault also increased by 37 percent in those neighborhoods.

As a consequence, community perception of crime in Richmond remains gloomy as ever.

"People think it's getting worse," said Jackie Thompson, chairwoman of the Tent City Peace Movement and a resident of the south side. "But there are a lot of good things going on in Richmond. People pick up on all the negative, but there's a lot of good stuff going on out there, too."

Tent City, a grass-roots anti-violence group, will pitch tents in city parks and organize a program of community building activities next week, partly in response to recent troubles.

Organized community efforts such as Tent City have grown in prominence in recent years, as has participation in neighborhood watch programs and other forms of neighborhood governance, Magnus said.

Feedback from neighborhoods about individual beat officers remains overwhelmingly positive, Magnus said. Residents appear to appreciate the customized service.

Even on their way to jail.

"I really can't make no excuse for my situation," Hutson said from a holding cell, as Officer Hauschild filled out his booking paperwork. "But this is too much. I been in too many times already."

Reach Karl Fischer at 510-262-2728 or kfischer@bayareanewsgroup.com.