Deadly violence is on the rise in the city of Richmond. Twenty-four people have been killed in Richmond so far this year, which is more than the number of homicides in all of 2010. Police say many are victims of an ongoing rivalry between gangs in Richmond and North Richmond, its unincorporated neighbor.
Now, the department is trying out several preventative methods, including offering rewards for information that may prevent future crimes.
“What we’re doing now is offering a reward for information that helps us make either an apprehension of a person or a vehicle or a weapon that could be used in a future crime,” said Captain Mark Gagan. “It’s easy when you’re dealing with gang violence ’cause its such an obvious cycle.”
Gagan won’t say if the department has given out any rewards yet, or how much they are, only that they are incentives to help stop a pattern of violence.
Community leaders say Richmond residents are reluctant to give information to the police because they fear for their lives though.
After the city broke last year’s homicide record Richmond’s Police Chief Chris Magnus asked community members to help the department by reporting criminal activity, and to find alternative activities for at risk youth.
“We need to be on the same page in terms of not only denouncing this kind of activity and also having some real alternatives available for some of the folks, often young men of color, who are getting in to this,” he said.
The police force has also increased patrols and formed a special gang task force that joins together the Richmond Police and Contra Costa County Sheriffs who are in charge of unincorporated North Richmond.