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Crosscurrents logo 2021

What Richmond's drop in crime means for other cities

Mariel Waloff

Residents in the city of Richmond are reeling from a recent shooting spree, including the murder of a 19-year-old. The city has had four homicides so far this year – all committed in public, all during the day. And there have been other daytime shootings. They’ve shocked city residents – because crimes like that are no longer the norm.

KALW’s criminal justice reporter Kyung-Jin Lee joined Holly Kernan in studio to talk about the crime drop in Richmond – and what other cities can learn from Richmond’s approach.

HOLLY KERNAN: So what kinds of reforms do you think that people will see or need to see in order to feel like there are actual changes within police department and in community police relations?

KYUNG-JIN LEE: So, there’s a few different things that the police department still needs to tackle in their list of reforms but a few key things include the big ticket items: police accountability and transparency with regards to internal investigation. For example, the department was supposed to set up a computerized system to keep track of potential problematic officers; they still don't have that system up yet. Additionally, they were supposed to reform or speed up the internal investigations process and the complaint process to have a timely resolution. It still takes over a year for many of the complaints to go through the investigation process, so when citizens can see their complaints resolved in a timely manner, when there is an actual decrease in crime –especially in violent crimes with the murder rates – that's when the relationship between the community and the police will have made a  tangible difference. When the residents will have an interaction with the police that's not negative and when they don't feel like they're being harassed, when their complaints are being seen as taken seriously and are being dealt with in a timely manner, that's when the residents and the citizens of Oakland will have more confidence in the department.

Click the audio player above to hear the rest of the interview.