August 16, 2011
The following came in while I was out of town:
August 9, 2011
Dear City Council and Community Members:
July was one of our most difficult months in a long time when it came to homicides in Richmond. Our hearts go out to the families of the individuals who lost their lives to gun violence in our community. After a long quiet period in the Iron Triangle neighborhood, multiple shootings—including a brazen daytime homicide across the street from the Nevin Community Center that occurred while children were outside playing—renewed anxiety and fear for residents in the area. Many of these shootings appear linked to gang activity involving young men from unincorporated North Richmond and Central Richmond. Seemingly indiscriminate shootings involving gang members have been particularly challenging, not only to Richmond, but to several other cities as well throughout the Bay Area this summer.
The frank reality is that many factors influence the kind of gun violence we dealt with in July (and that we’ve seen before in Richmond). Due to budget issues and overcrowding concerns that impact the State’s prison system, increasing numbers of individuals are being released who have serious criminal histories, very limited education and job skills, and a myriad of mental health and substance abuse problems. If these folks came from Richmond initially, that’s where they’re coming back to. It’s also no secret that resources for people coming back to the community after incarceration are critically inadequate. The end result is that recidivism rates are as high as 80% for many of these individuals.
The Department is attempting to meet these challenges by working to implement “Project Ceasefire,” an initiative considered a “best practice” in several other cities around the country dealing with gang violence. “Ceasefire” involves identifying individuals believed to be “shot-callers” or key players when it comes to violence and then meeting with them one at a time to lay out two choices: accept support and services to move away from a life of crime OR become a primary focus of law enforcement and prosecutorial efforts with the increased likelihood of serving a long time behind bars. These “call-ins” involve not only police and prosecutors, but also key community members who can influence these young men in positive ways. “Ceasefire” is a partnership between the police, ONS, and community groups. It is supported, in part, by a grant from the State.
We are also continuing our work with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department to step up enforcement efforts and build stronger ties to the community in North and Central Richmond. The officers and deputies involved in this effort have been busy over the past several weeks making arrests, confiscating firearms, and developing intel with the goal of reducing gang violence in these neighborhoods.
As you can see from the information provided below, our cops stay busy responding to calls and initiating significant police activity. I have highlighted just a few examples of this to give you a sense of what our officers are doing and dealing with. If you have any questions or would like more information, please let me know.
Chief Chris Magnus
Putting Richmond Crime In Perspective—Despite the sharp increase in homicides compared to last year at this time, crime trends in Richmond overall show continued progress. As of the beginning of August, this is where we stand compared to the same time in 2010:
Sunday, August 7, 2011, 12:30 p.m., 4000 block of Fleming Ave.--Officers responded to a residence in this block after a female called saying her husband was stabbing himself with a butcher knife. Just prior to the officers’ arrival, the caller said her husband had discarded the knife in the street and was now hiding inside a relative’s residence nearby. Entry into the home was made and the suspect was contacted. He was found to have two lacerations to his neck. The suspect was placed on a mental health hold (51-50) and transported by EMS personnel.
Sunday, August 7, 2011, 1 p.m., 4800 block of Bayview St.--Officer Gault was on routine patrol when he observed two occupied vehicles parked in this block. Each of the vehicles emitted loud music that could be heard in excess of 100 feet away. As Officer Gault was contacting the occupants, several of the subjects got out of the cars and started to walk away. Located in plain view in one of the vehicles were two unmarked bottles containing a controlled substance (prescription drug). A 21 year-old male was taken into custody.
Saturday, August 6, 2011, 7:40 p.m., 100 block of 1st St.--Officers responded to a report of a man with a gun at a residence in this block. The caller reported that a man with a silver handgun had entered the residence. RPD/Sheriff’s Dept. Task Force units established a perimeter around the residence and then detained several males who jumped the fence from the rear yard of the residence. The investigation yielded an assault rifle as well as a semi-automatic handgun in the rear yard. One of the subjects detained was a 31 year-old male found to be on parole. A call to his parole agent quickly resulted in the issuance of a parole detainer. This subject was transported to the Richmond City Jail where he was booked. Officer Peterson authored the preliminary investigation and Officer Chalk served the parole detainer.
Saturday, August 6, 2011, 11:00 p.m., 2900 Pullman Ave.--RPD personnel were in the area conducting high visibility directed enforcement when they observed two known subjects. The officers recognized an 18 year-old male who they knew was on probation for robbery. The officers initiated contact with this subject and conducted a pat-search. During the pat-search, officers located a loaded, Highpoint 9mm handgun in the subject’s front pocket. This subject was arrested and transported to the Richmond City Jail where he was booked. A records check of the firearm revealed the gun had been reported stolen to Hayward PD. Officers Lewis and Nath authored the preliminary investigation.
Thursday, August 4, 2011, 6:45 p.m., 25th St. and Barrett Ave.--Officers Domenici and Moody conducted a traffic enforcement stop for a vehicle code violation. They discovered the driver had a suspended driver’s license. The officers conducted an inventory search while preparing to impound the vehicle. Officers located 3.8 grams of base cocaine inside the vehicle. A male was arrested and booked into the RPD Jail.
Update on 7/23/2011, Homicide Case—Warrants Obtained: On July 23, 2011 at approximately 2220 hours, victim Alejandro Avila Cardenas Jr. was shot and killed near the intersection of 24th Street/Exchange Place. Cardenas was a member of the San Rafael “18th Street” gang. The fight, and subsequent murder, was the result of an internal conflict between fellow “18th Street” gang members. Two suspects have been identified in the murder (Agustin Gonzalez-Salinas, H/M, 9/11/84 and Felipe Alfaro, H/M, 5/27/84) and Ramey arrest warrants have been obtained for both.
Human Trafficking Symposium Sponsored by RPD—Sgt. Ruth Ducharme of the Department’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Unit (DSVU) has taken a lead role in coordinating a symposium on Human Trafficking that will be held in Richmond on Thursday. Over 76 people from police and human services agencies throughout the region have signed up to attend. On July 12th, the Governor signed AB12, the “Abolition of Child Commerce, Exploitation, and Sexual Slavery Act” (ACCESS). This Act increases the fines against “Johns” who engage in commercial sex with a minor up to $25,000 and directs those fines to groups providing therapy, housing, shelter, and education to those child victims. The author of this bill was Assembly Member Sandre Swanson (D-Alameda).
Just a quick update on the progress of the task force we established several weeks ago in response to the series of mostly gang-related shootings in north and central Richmond . . .
This task force has been comprised of officers from RPD and deputies from CCCSO who have been paired up together to address gang activity and violence. Their focus was very targeted and I have been very impressed with their professionalism and community outreach. It is worth noting that neither the Sheriff’s Dept. or our department have received even one complaint from area residents about their efforts. In fact, several neighbors called us to express their appreciation for the work of this group.
To date, this is a summary of some of the task force’s activity:
If you have any questions, please let me know.