Richmond holds emergency meeting

January 3, 2008 8:28:26 PM PST
Fed-up with the crime in Richmond, the city council public safety committee held an emergency meeting to discuss the alarming number of murders.

Despite the use of the CHP to help Richmond beat cops control the streets, many believe a lot more needs to be done.

When it comes to the city's response to Richmond's murder rate, there is plenty of criticism from the public.

"It is very hard to trust someone who has no respect for you," said Richmond resident Kathy Robinson.

There are also lots of possible solutions.

"I suggest the National Guard, for awhile. I don't know how long, but this is an emergency," said Hercules resident Ned Jeter.

An emergency meeting was called today by a City Council committee, after 55 homicides were reported in 2007. Still it's the lowest in 26 years.

City councilmember Tony Thurmond says it's unlikely the National Guard will be called in.

"That may or may not even be the solution to this problem. We are going to bring more police presence with the highway patrol, this has proven to work in the past," said Thurmond.

The city council is expected to ask Sacramento for a grant to bring in CHP officers to assist the 70 patrolling officers in Richmond.

Police shifts will also increase from ten hours to 12 hours, and this year 24 rookies will be added to the force.

The chief of police says there are also plans to work with parole and probation officers to track past offenders.

"Saying look we are on top of what is going on, we are going to monitor you closely, we're here to be your friend but also your worst enemy if you are not going to play by the rules if you think you are coming to the community and commit more crimes," said Chris Magnus from Richmond Police.

This month 28 security cameras in Richmond's so-called hot spots will be installed.

But many in this community say creating youth programs and jobs are just as important to help deter crime.

"Opportunity, we need to see a light at the end of the tunnel," said Director of Neighborhood safety Devone Boggan.

Even if all these measures are implemented, city officials agree their success will depend in great part, on the cooperation of the community.