ONS - Alternatives to Policing Pays Off

ONS - Alternatives to Policing Pays Off

By Reimagine Richmond


The city of Richmond’s Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) will receive $6 million from the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) Program. This money is to be used by ONS to continue its violence prevention efforts in the community. The 2021 budgetary allocation recommended by Reimagine Public Safety Community Task Force and approved by a majority of City Council members enabled ONS to apply for the $6 million in state funds.

ONS builds partnerships and creates strategies to reduce gun-related injuries and deaths, working to create lasting change in Richmond, according to Sam Vaughn, deputy director. 

“We think of ourselves like the CIA. Because, you know they exist, but you don’t have a clue how they’re successful. We’re in the background. We’re where folks don’t go,” Vaughn said. “The folks we deal with live in the dark, so we got to go into the shadows and meet them where they are.” 

From the ONS website: The ONS is responsible for directing gun violence prevention and intervention initiatives that foster greater community well-being and public safety. ONS Street Outreach staff reach out to those most likely to be involved in gun violence, those most resistant to change and chronically unresponsive to help. The Office of Neighborhood Safety helps to provide their stakeholders with credible, customized and responsive opportunities that represent a real alternative to street violence and criminal activity.

Since its founding in 2007, ONS has been a crucial part of Reimagining Public Safety in Richmond. And this new funding will be important to invest in the programs that continue to move Richmond towards a model based on prevention vs punishment, including resources for ONS hospital-based interventions, re-entry services and diversion programs. Real community engagement and change, as done by ONS, represents a vision of public safety that is more equitable, less expensive, and more effective. 

Sources: Richmond Pulse, Office of Neighborhood Safety Webpage