Richmond to get tough on gun crime

March 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gun violence is also a major problem in Richmond, but the city has a new plan to get guns and shooters off the streets. They say if you use a gun, you should go on trial. This change will help eliminate a growing backlog of gun cases in Richmond.

Thousands of bullets were taken off the streets of Richmond in just the past three months. Richmond police say they confiscate at least one gun each day and it is creating a backlog of cases which makes it harder to convict.

When asked what happens if you get caught with a gun for the first time, Richmond resident Kenan Shackelford says, "Oh basically you get a slap on the wrist, you're going home [with] an ankle monitor or maybe probation." He says he knows this because he just got out for armed robbery.

"The city of Concord, a larger city, presented 22 gun cases for prosecution. By contrast, Richmond presented 128," says Richmond Police Capt. Allwyn Brown.

But soon Richmond will have a special prosecutor dedicated to expedite and build stronger gun crime cases with stiffer penalties.

"Having a D.A. here and working together with the detectives during the investigation is certainly going to expedite the process," says Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Mark Eichman.

In many a cases, gun possession is only a misdemeanor or it is dropped all together, especially when suspects ditch their guns.

"And they'll automatically surrender knowing it's going to be very hard to attach them to that gun because the follow up to that type of crime is not very good," says Richmond Officer Florencio Rivera.

But now a special prosecutor will have more time to prove the gun was dropped using touch DNA evidence.

"The same person that will be coming over here will be taking this case, and even be a part of the investigation, from the arraignment process all the way through trial," says Eichman.

Forming a solid case requires expert witnesses, ballistics testing and DNA analysis -- a job that was difficult without a special prosecutor.


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