Patrols in North Richmond increase

July 20, 2009 9:14:42 PM PDT
Unincorporated North Richmond is just one-square mile in size, but it is plagued by crime and violence. Now, there are more sheriff deputies patrolling the streets as its neighbor, the City of Richmond, is struggling with a gang turf war.

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The corner store is proof of just how dangerous the streets of North Richmond can be.

"At this Rancho Market, if you get out and look at the side walls, you can actually see where a lot of the bullets have hit the wall," says Contra Costa Sheriff's Deputy Justin Varady.

Police say a recent surge in gun deaths in the City of Richmond stems from a turf war between gangs there and in North Richmond. A plan to step up patrols by deputies precedes the latest rash of violence, but officials are hoping it might help to put a stop to it.

"We don't want the message out there to be that people can come to North Richmond, commit crimes and then leave without being seen. There will be clearly be more vehicles on the streets, patrolling the neighborhood and talking to residents," says Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.

Even in the face of steep budget cuts, county officials managed to come up with the money to put two new deputies on patrol and to reassign others, so that for the first time in years, there will be deputies out on the streets around the clock.

"Thugs and marauders and felons don't respect any jurisdictional lines and so we have to be prepared to chase them down wherever they are," says Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf.

Railroad tracks separate the unincorporated section of Contra Costa County from the city's borders. There are just 3,500 residents in North Richmond and the it's just one-square mile in size, but it represents the busiest area in all of Contra Costa County for the Sheriff's Department.

"That's all it's about. People getting shot, getting killed, and all that kind of stuff," says Nathan Pridgon, from North Richmond.

Residents say they're tired of the violence.

"You see, nobody's going to sell their wares, if they're illegal with the sheriff around," says Willie Mae Payne, a 20-year North Richmond resident.

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