|Most Dangerous City Rankings Deceptive
November 25, 2008
When the crime rankings for cities were recently posted for 2008, Richmond was ranked ninth nationally again. See http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/CityCrime2008_Rank_Rev.pdf.
This is both confusing and unfair, because the “2008” rankings are actually based on 2007 data. The fact is that Richmond has made significant progress in 2008, due in large part to Chief Magnus’ leadership, the Police Department’s embracing of community policing, better community involvement and efforts of the Office of Neighborhood Safety.
The following is from Chief Magnus:
The private crime publishing firm that puts out its yearly list of the "Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S." has ranked Richmond #9 based on 2007 data (Oakland was ranked #5). While we all know 2007 was a particularly rough year in terms of crime in our community, the nationally published list always makes a splash with the state and local media and is likely to attract attention once again this year. I am very optimistic that our 2008 crime stats will ultimately show this has been a much safer year in Richmond than 2007 was, but as mentioned above, this particular rankings survey is based on data that has already been published by the FBI and is more than a year old.
As I have discussed with all of you many times, crime problems in Richmond didn't develop overnight and they won't be solved quickly either. I continue to believe we are following nationally acknowledged best practices to reduce crime in our city and to develop the strongest possible partnership between our residents and the police. So far during 2008, we have:
· Followed through on a major commitment to increase the number of viable Neighborhood Watch groups in Richmond
· Implemented the first phase of the City's closed circuit camera (CCTV) program--which has already alerted the police to a number of suspicious and criminal incidents
· Conducted two "One Block at a Time" blight abatement and neighborhood improvement efforts--with a third such effort to be held in December
· Established a "Richmond/West County Gang Task Force" which recently completed an 11 month-long investigation resulting in over 41 search warrants, more than 30 arrests, major confiscations of illegal weapons and drugs, and a significant impact on the activities of Richmond's "Deep C" gang
· Worked with other City departments and neighborhood groups to implement a comprehensive city-wide graffiti abatement program
· Initiated the City's Crime-Safe Housing program to reduce crime within apartment complexes and other residential housing developments
· Teamed up as an active member of Bay Area CrimeStoppers, which provides rewards for viable crime tips
· Increased our homicide clearance rate to its highest level in years
· Conducted a series of truancy sweeps aimed at getting truants back into schools and off the streets
· Worked with the C.H.P. to provide stepped-up patrols in high crime areas
· Increased overall department staffing levels
· Significantly reduced the number of "Shots Fired", "Man with a Gun", and "Drug Loitering" calls in the community
· Implemented several successful robbery reduction and prevention efforts, with special outreach efforts geared towards Spanish-speaking residents
· Begun utilizing "license plate reader" technology to reduce the number of stolen vehicles in Richmond
This is only a short list of many of our ongoing actvities for crime reduction that are all oriented around a commitment to geographic-based community oriented policing. Working collaboratively with the Richmond's many neighborhood groups, the City's Office of Neighborhood Safety, the West Contra Costa County Unified School District, and the City's faith and business communities, I remain confident we are making progress and building a strong foundation for change.
Please contact me if you would like any additional information or if you have any questions.
Chief Chris Magnus
Chief Magus also provided the following chart that compares the year to date crim statistics in Richmond for 2007 and 2008, and added “Obviously, we take nothing for granted until the full year is completed, but as you can see below, our current crime stats reflect very favorably on the progress we have made working with the community to make Richmond a safer city.”