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ISSUES | Crime / Creating a Culture of Peace

RPA Steering Committee on The Citizens Police Review Commission:

Richmond leads the way on accountability

We have arguably one of the best police forces in the state and now we'll have one of the best accountability and community oversight standards in the state, too.  

The measure approved by Councilmembers McLaughlin, Martinez, Beckles, and Myrick last week, once established as an ordinance, will provide the Richmond community meaningful oversight when police activities result in the loss of life or in serious injury.  In a time when other police departments have become mired in controversy, this policy serves to create transparency and accountability.  We're moving very clearly in the right direction and that has required and will continue to require vision and a steady commitment to a culture of government open to oversight, input, and collaboration with the community it serves.

The following links provide information about the Citizens Police Review Commission ordinance and the investigation requirement called for on February 2nd:

Richmond Confidential - Feb 3, 2016 - Richmond city council meeting discusses investigating the death of Richard "Pedie" Perez.

Mike Parker sends An Open Letter to Tom Butt On the Police Commission Issue:

Here We Go Again?

[The following letter was submitted by Mike Parker, in reply to recent emails by Tom Butt. --PB]


You seem to believe that an independent investigation of a police action that results in death or serious injury shows "distrust" or "bashing" of our police department. I think most Richmond residents support independent review of the police. It develops public support for the police and can provide information to reduce negative outcomes in the future. Do you oppose independent auditors examining the City's books? Does requiring such an audit mean that you distrust Bill Lindsay and City staff? Or do you think that money is more important than the loss of a human life?

It appears that whenever the Council does not see things your way, you decide it is time to declare war on the Richmond Progressive Alliance and pursue a bridge-burning, scorched earth campaign. You start your message with straight out untruths and arguable "facts" and build from there:

Here we go again. The vast majority of Richmond residents have no interest in an unprecedented, expensive and time-consuming expansion of the mission of the Richmond Police Commission to investigate incidents that have not even resulted in a complaint. But the Richmond Progressive Alliance believes that is now Richmond's top priority, along with reopening an investigation into the death of Pedie Perez. (Tom Butt E-Forum 2/5/16)

The RPA has never said anything that suggests that investigations of the police should be "Richmond's top priority." The RPA considers the policies of community policing, jobs, housing, and the environment all to be high priorities. It does believe that investigations of serious incidents are an important part of strengthening community confidence in our police. Nor should such investigations be assumed "expensive," as I will discuss later. 
*     *     *
You say that "All [councilmembers who supported the resolutions] averred that the Richmond Police Department is the best in the world before proceeding to smash it with visceral verbal attacks." There were NO verbal attacks of any kind on the Richmond Police Department --NONE. Nor was there even any criticism of the department. Here is ALL of what you give for evidence:

Click here for the full letter.
Report on Police Commission's Jan 21st. Special Meeting
The case for automatic & independent review

9-15-15 photo by Juan Reardon.
Juan Reardon reports that the reforms recommended by the eight current Police Commission members on January 21 are "good first steps," and builds a strong case for the need for an automatic and independent review in any case of a police-involved fatality or severe injury.  He argues:

"Fear of reprisals, ignorance of the law and basic rights, immigration status, false promises by the police department or District Attorney, and offers of quick financial settlements that may leave the officer unpunished, are just some of the reasons why family members (if the victim had a family) may not fully pursue the option of a parallel and independent investigation... ."

"By the end of the meeting the eight current commissioners had voted on a few recommendations that are good first steps, including a change in the name to reflect more independence from the Police Department. It recommended the new name of Citizens' Police Review Commission. The Commission also recommended that copies of all complaints filed with the Commission be immediately sent to each commissioner. It also reaffirmed its intention to be the final decision-maker about the merits of each case filed. The commissioners then voted to extend from 45 days to 120 days the period of time in which a complaint can be filed with the Commission. They also voted to recommend that it shall be the commission itself, and not the investigator, who decides if a case has merits for a late filing beyond that established period.
"It is expected that the City Council will accept these proposals, as well as others, to prepare a new ordinance to empower and regulate the commission for the benefit of the residents of Richmond... ."  
--Juan Reardon

Read the full article and sharpen your arguments in support of Council action for an independent investigation in the Perez case and automatically thereafter if there is another instance of police-involved death or serious injury.

Justice for Pedie Perez Movement & Oscar Grant Committee says

Council decisions: "A positive for citizens of Richmond"

This statement is from the Justice for Pedie Perez Movement and the Oscar Grant Committee:
In response to Mayor Butt's and Chief Magnus's comments after the last  [Feb. 2] City Council meeting, the Perez family along with the Oscar Grant Committee would like to address a few issues that are being misconstrued as a negative rather than a positive for the citizens of Richmond.
Mayor Butt continues to try and raise suspicion towards the Perez family for wanting a true and impartial investigation, which was never performed after the shooting death of their unarmed son, Richard Pedie Perez III, by Officer Wallace Jensen on Sept. 14, 2014. To say our mistrust in a few represents our opinion for the larger majority of the Richmond Police force is just a play on words to demonize not only the family, but also the City Council members and others who see the true injustices that are taking place here.
We applaud the fine job that the majority of the Richmond Police Department (RPD) officers are doing in this community, but the fact of the matter is: a 24 year old man lost his life at the hands of one of their officers whose reputation isn't the most pristine.
Clearly Mr. Butt doesn't understand this situation: it is not a matter of antipathy towards the RPD, but merely an effort to hold them accountable for their actions in the same way that every other member of the community is held accountable, by an independent investigation of any incidents involving violent inflicting of harm on other community members. While it is true that this would be almost unprecedented in the United States, that is simply symptomatic of how little accountability the police have in our society. In point of fact, in almost every jurisdiction in the United States, police violence is investigated by the police departments themselves, or by the same prosecutors and district attorneys who have a collegial relationship with the police departments...

Will Police Commission Investigate?
Where is Justice in Pedie Perez's Death?

On September 14, 2014 Richard "Pedie" Perez was shot and killed by Officer Wallace Jensen outside Uncle Sam's Liquor Store on Cutting Boulevard.
Like many police involved shootings across the country, the law enforcement authorities, the District Attorney and the Richmond Police Department, quickly concluded that the officer was not at fault. The DA said there was no criminal act and the Richmond police quickly returned Officer Wallace Jenson to duty. (Jensen has since taken long-term medical leave.)
But something is glaringly wrong here. The bottom line is that a young man, who
  • did not have a weapon,
  • did not threaten anyone, and
  • had committed no criminal act (except perhaps being drunk in public)
was shot three times by a person who was supposed to be acting for all of us in maintaining public safety.
click here for full Perez article
--Tarnel Abbott
Mike Parker

Pre- & Post-Ferguson

Real Police Reform Takes Root in Richmond

by Steve Early

In the wake of a Missouri grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on August 9, it can be difficult to imagine a city in the United States where a police department and a largely black and Latino population work together productively.

But it's happening in Richmond, California, a gritty town in the San Francisco Bay Area best known for its massive Chevron refinery and, in past years, for its high crime rate.

Thanks to a decade-long experiment with “community policing,” violent crime in Richmond is down. Last year, this city of 100,000 had only 16 killings—the lowest number in 33 years—and far fewer unsolved homicide cases.

Gun use by the Richmond Police Department (RPD) itself is also way down. Despite making thousands of arrests and confiscating one gun or more every day in the city, the RPD has averaged less than one officer-involved shooting per year since 2008. On September 6, The Contra Costa Times ran a story, citing these and other statistics. It was headlined: "Use of Deadly Force by Police Disappears on Richmond Streets."

Continue to the full CounterPunch story.

Cops Stop Shooting People, Crime Drops Dramatically

When Liberals Take Control of Police

Exerpt from the East Bay Express, September 10

by Robert Gammon

One police department in the East Bay is proving that the law-and-order crowd has been wrong all these years, and that overwhelming force—especially lethal force—is not only unjustified, but completely unnecessary. Since 2007, the Richmond Police Department, under the command of Chief Chris Magnus, the most progressive police chief in the Bay Area, has not had a single fatal shooting by one of its officers, a fact that was first reported last weekend by the Contra Costa Times.

When Magnus took over the troubled Richmond PD in 2006, he quickly realized that overwhelming force was not the answer. In 2006 and 2007, Richmond cops shot five people, killing one of them. So he instituted numerous reforms, including training officers to defuse tense situations without firing their weapons. Magnus also emphasized the importance of investigating crime, and eschewed so-called hotspot policing, in which a department saturates an area with cops like an occupying force. "We are surgical," he told the CoCo Times earlier this year. "We concentrate on people that need to be focused on."

Magnus also installed a robust community-policing program, deploying officers into neighborhoods to forge relationships with residents. The effort was designed to reverse a longstanding problem in Richmond in which residents distrusted the city's violent police force and refused to cooperate with it. Magnus also reformed the way police respond to political demonstrations, training officers to take a softer, gentler approach.

Continue to the full East Bay Express article.

Richmond On Pace For Another Year Of Record Low Crime Rates

Operation Ceasefire

In case you missed it, here's a 2 1/2 minute KPIX report on the success of Richmond's innovative (& controversial) community policing program.

In the Tradition of Studs Turkel

Interview with Richmond Police Chief Magnus

Richmond resident Steve Early talked with our Chief about the way he wants the force to work in this city. Here's some of what he had to say about community policing:

"If you're really committed to community policing, you have to make structural changes within your organization. Are you going to have community policing officers who are just this small cadre within a department—essentially its public relations wing—or are you going to integrate the larger expectations of community policing into the role of every officer? The latter is what we've tried to do here—to say no matter what your assignment, we expect you to, first and foremost, build quality relationships."

It's a new and apparently effective vision, another one of the ways Richmond is better now.

Read the whole piece, published in In These Times.

San Quentin Richmond Project

Getting the Word Out
Getting the Word Out

I, along with my office staff, have been making regular visits to the men of the San Quentin Richmond Project (men from Richmond serving time in San Quentin) and are making connections for them with the "outside community." We are circulating this video, produced by the men, among our violence prevention groups, youth groups, city staff and the community at large.


It is deeply important that we showcase the transformation that these men are making while in prison and share their message with our community, especially our youth.


Please feel free to forward this video link to your lists. We'll continue to update the community on efforts of the Richmond Project as we continue to prioritize this "inside/outside" connection in the interest of a safer, more peaceful Richmond.  


You can help further the work of the Richmond Project by writing a check to San Quentin TRUST (write Richmond Project in the memo section of the check) and sending to:

Accounting, San Quentin State Prison, 1 Main Street, San Quentin, CA 94964


--Gayle McLaughlin,  

Mayor, City of Richmond

Board Votes  for Re-Entry Services

CCP Board

On Friday the executive committee of the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) of Contra Costa County, meeting in Martinez, voted to:
  • fund the Community Advisory Board's  (CAB) proposals for comprehensive re-entry services for formerly incarcerated individuals in the AB109 prison realignment population  (6-1 vote)
  • remove funding for jail expansion out of the Sheriff's budget and put it into a general reserve fund (7-0 vote)
Thanks again to Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus for his strong support of the community's recommendations from the beginning, to Public Defender Robin Lipetzky [on right] for stepping forward and making the motion to support the CAB budget, and to Kiri Torre of the Court, Cynthia Belon of Health Services, Probation Chief Philip Kader and Sheriff David Livingston for adding their votes to support the CAB proposal.  The one dissenting vote was from District Attorney Mark Peterson [on left].

Bonus item:  Thanks also to Sheriff Livingston for dialoguing with community organizations and making plans to stop honoring ICE immigration holds for low level offenses.

Next steps:  RFP/RFQ process will be initiated, and the AB109 budget for 2012-13, as voted on by the CCP, will be submitted to the County's Board of Supervisors on January 15, 2013 for final approval.

This all happened because of the strong and unified community mobilization that started in Richmond and spread throughout the county, involving many grassroots organizations (including CCISCO, Safe Return Project and Richmond Progressive Alliance), non-profits, faith-based groups and concerned residents.  THANKS and CONGRATULATIONS to EVERYONE who was part of this effort!
--Marilyn Langlois

CCP Audience
Regular Community Testimony at CCP meetings was critical in shifting the funds

Recent News Shows Positive Results from Community Policing

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to share with you some encouraging news. Our collective work, as a community and as a City, in reducing crime is showing positive results.

Two recent media reports highlight Richmond's progress.

On July 30, KTVU-Channel 2 television news aired a report about Richmond's dramatic drop in violent crime, noting a 10% decrease overall and a 22% decline in the Central District. Homicides have dropped 60% so far in 2010, and gunshots are down 37% Click here for KTVU.

On July 26, the Contra Costa Times chronicled the significant drop in violence within the Parchester Village neighborhood, a turnaround due in large part to community-oriented policing. Click here for story

We can all feel proud and hopeful by these inroads, hard won by collaborative work by the enlarged and enhanced Richmond Police Department, local community and neighborhood groups, and many dedicated individuals working on the frontlines.

As we highlight these positive trends, we must also redouble our efforts to fight crime as we build a better Richmond. One gunshot is too many; a single homicide is unacceptable.

{he letter urged participation in "National Night Out" events on August 3rd. The event was an outstanding success with hundreds of people particiapting in neighborhood activities.--ed}


Mayor Gayle McLaughlin 8/1/10