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KCBS On Richmond Crime Reduction

Posted: Thursday, 03 July 2008 1:13PM

Seeds of Change Planted in Violence-Plagued Community

RICHMOND, Calif. (KCBS) – Dump trucks roll in and out of a bulldozed park at 4th and McDonald, an area that was once home to what locals referred to as “the devil’s playground,” because of the rampant drug dealing and violence.

It’s now being rebuilt to make it easier to prevent crime. Redevelopment, in part, is why the city’s notorious Iron Triangle, which saw 40% of the city’s murders last year, has so far in 2008 only seen one. “We’re going after liquor stores for the way they sell alcohol to minors,” explained Richmond Police Department spokesman, Lt. Mark Gagan. “All these things change the way the neighborhood feels. And it slowly has created a situation where the Iron Triangle is on the move.”

In fact, Richmond saw no homicides at all in June, a rather remarkable statistic for a city that just three years ago was contemplating declaring a state of emergency because of the crime rate.

Neighborhood activists believe the recent improvements have come through because adults are getting serious about change. “The tent city movement started right here at this park and it spread to other parks,” one man explained. “And so that means that there have been adults in the community who have now started that dialogue about how can they impact the reduction of violence.”