Police Chief Chris Magnus: What We're Doing About the Recent Uptick in Crime


Dear Community Residents:

After several years of sustained reductions in crime, Richmond is experiencing a troubling upswing in both violent and property crime that we can turn around, but only by acknowledging it and by working together. While we prefer to deliver “good news” about public safety in our city, our department takes pride in being transparent, forthcoming, and honest when the news is not so good. We’re all in this together, so because we know that sharing information leads to better collaboration and problem-solving, I want you to understand that we must act now to reverse some very troubling crime trends.

Specifically, a grouping of crimes tracked nationally by the FBI referred to as “Part I Crimes”, which includes a number of property and violent crimes, is up approximately 16% so far this year in Richmond (compared to the same period—January through June—last year). One of the most significant increases has been in the number of Armed Robberies. As of the end of June, Armed Robberies were up 26% (with a net increase of 27 robberies compared to the same time last year).

The pace of these robberies has further increased in July. For example, this past Thursday night, we had 5 robberies. Another Armed Robbery took place Friday night. Many of these robberies involve individuals walking alone in a diverse group of residential neighborhoods throughout the city or people getting in and out of their vehicles at their homes. Robbery victims are typically distracted—often on their cellphones and frequently with their hands full. The perpetrators often come up behind them, indicate they have a gun or other weapon, and demand wallets, purses, cellphones, jewelry, etc. Suspects are often working in pairs and wear hoodies or other similar clothing to hide their faces. They typically flee on foot (but they may have vehicles waiting for them nearby). Many of these robberies occur during daylight hours.

• Carefully tracking the location, suspect information, and method involved (“M.O.”) for each robbery so we can provide the best crime analysis information for our beat officers, supervisors, and detectives (much of this information is also available to the public through the crime-map info linked to our website at www.richmondpd.net);
• Assigning additional officers with the resources we have available to areas most impacted by the robberies;
• Sharing information and working together with our law enforcement partners in nearby communities, as well as with our federal partners;
• Working closely with federal agents from the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) joining local/federal resources to identify and arrest suspects;
• Utilizing CCTV resources, private cameras, and other technology to gather leads on possible suspects;
• Offering rewards of $10,000 or more for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those committing these robberies. If you have any information regarding these crimes, please contact Detective Rivera at [email protected] or (510) 621-1755;
• Implementing a Park Ranger program of young adults who can help observe and report suspicious activity along the Greenway and in other parks around the city. This program is in its developmental stage, so while it holds strong potential, it will not be up and running for several months. We are also hiring a number of new cadets (generally college-age young people who attend school while working part-time at the PD) who can assist with various crime prevention related activities;
• Actively promoting community awareness and crime prevention efforts through efforts like the upcoming National Night Out on Aug. 4th and the Safe Cities Community Crime Expo (by the Civic Center) on Aug. 22nd.

• Stepping up vigilance within your neighborhood about unfamiliar individuals hanging out or behaving suspiciously. Get good descriptions and call us even if you’re not sure what the suspicious individuals are up to. Depending on how busy we are with high priority calls, we cannot always respond as quickly as we’d like, but there are many times when officers are available and in the area, so don’t discount the value of calling us. You can dial “911” or our non-emergency number—which is (510)233-1214 (then press -0- for Dispatch);
• If you are a victim, do not resist or fight back. Your safety is more important than your property. Do your best to recall incident details, suspect descriptions and direction of travel and call 911 immediately. Don’t wait to report the crime;
• Stay alert in your comings and goings from your home. Don’t be distracted by talking on your cellphone. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Whenever possible, avoid carrying or displaying valuables. There’s no need to take a “bunker mentality,” but be street-smart and stay aware of your surroundings;
• Get to know your neighbors, then get organized! Neighbors looking out for each other and watching for the unusual is powerful crime prevention. Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch group (contact our Crime Prevention Manager, Michelle Milam, at [email protected] for help with this). If your neighborhood is having a National Night Out block party, stop by and visit with your neighbors and beat officers. Attend RPD’s Safe Cities Community Crime Expo on Aug. 22nd by the Civic Center for more safety tips, information, and other resources.

We are committed to addressing the challenge of Armed Robberies as well as the increase in gun-related crimes overall in our city, but our resources, including staffing, is reduced—so community partnerships are more important than ever. We can reverse this recent trend, but we must take it seriously and respond now by working together! Please contact me if you have questions or would like additional information. Also, stay up to date or get more tips by checking out our Facebook page (“The Richmond Police Department”), our webpage (www.richmondpd.net), and feel free to follow me on Twitter: @RPDChiefMagnus.


Chief Chris Magnus

Photo courtesy of KGOU

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