A combination of a strong police presence and help from local residents has led to a reduction in crime in such troubled neighborhoods as Richmond’s Belden Garcia Park.
In an exclusive interview with KTVU, Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus spoke about his city’s falling violent crime rate.
In 2013, the East Bay city had its lowest homicide rate in 33 years.
While admitting “it’s not mission accomplished,” Magnus used Belden Garcia Park in the city’s Iron Triangle neighborhood as an example.
It used to be a magnet for crime.
“We used to see people get shot in the park, especially here in this park. It was crazy,” said Maria Parra, a Belden Garcia Park neighborhood resident and mother of five children.
A renovation of the park just three months ago and a strong police presence is making a difference.
“You call them and they are out here in less than 2 minutes they’re out here,” said Parra.
Magnus is starting his 9th year on the job and takes pride in the latest statistics.
“You see efforts coming together all the time where that planning is paying off,” he said.
The 53-year-old chief tells KTVU planning, patience and strategies that may be controversial are key in the city’s turnaround.
Police department statistics show violent crime has dropped about 27 percent since 2006 when Magnus became police chief of Richmond.
He says a wiretap program targeting specific individuals has paid off. It was done with the help the district attorney and federal law enforcement.
“We were literally listening in on phone calls where people were planning to go out and kill people,” he said. “Sure enough that at the times they indicated in their phone calls, that they were going out… armed to the teeth into the very areas where they said they were going to kill someone.”
Magnus has a personal investment in Richmond. He’s lived here the entire time he’s been in the Bay Area.
He says continued success in keeping the crime rate low depends on staying the course with hard earned relationships with community members.
“People have figured out they need to be engaged in looking out for each other,” he said. “We’re seeing that when that happens we can really drive crime down.”