By Jamin Pursell
Over the last century, the automobile has become a potent symbol of traditional Americana. The Ford assembly line brought the car to the American masses in 1913. At only $260 by 1925, the Model T was affordable, costing the average worker only a few months' wages. During that time, Prohibition created an industry for the American Bootlegger. Bootleggers drove vehicles called “stock cars” to distribute their illicit goods, making them small, fast vehicles to better evade the police. Drivers also modified vehicles for speed, handling, and increased cargo capacity. The early NASCAR drivers used those same cars in Daytona Beach.Read more
By Mike Parker and Shiva Mishek*
Richmond police officers are better-compensated than officers in surrounding communities. Oakland comes close, with officers being compensated an average of $279,869.87 annually to Richmond’s $283,866.50.
The claim that police officers are leaving Richmond because they are not being paid enough does not fit the data. According to TransparentCalifornia.com data for the latest year available (2020), the average total pay plus benefits for RPD staff is higher than in comparable surrounding communities. While the base pay for police officers in all of these communities starts out roughly the same, overtime plus extras quickly boost the average.Read more
At the upcoming City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 14, the council will consider whether to extend the Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force, whose mandate is set to expire on September 30. It is crucial that our community voice its support for the Task Force’s continuation.Read more
Richmond has a fireworks problem. For some of our residents, it feels like July 4th has become an entire season.Read more
Mayor Butt’s obsession with Reimagine Public Safety Community Task Force member Tamisha Torres-Walker continues. Torres-Walker, who serves as a City Councilwoman in Antioch, recently made a call for the hiring of four more police officers in the district she represents.Read more
It was just over a year ago when the previous Richmond City Council initiated the process of establishing a formal task force to Reimagine Public Safety in Richmond. Between the Task Force and the Council there have been hours and hours of discussion on this subject, including analyzing relevant data, developing programatic strategies and implementation plans, and developing a budget to support this vision of a safer Richmond. Please check out this video for an overview.
In recent weeks, a sudden preoccupation with police layoffs entered the public conversation around the Reimagine Public Safety Community Task Force proposals. The origins of this fear have been difficult to track, as the Task Force provided numerous sample budgets for city staff to refer to when implementing the proposals—none of which included layoffs. Instead, the four pillars of the public safety program were to be funded through such budgetary procedures as eliminating frozen police positions, staff vacancies, and unnecessary contracts with private firms. Eliminating the twelve police department vacancies, for example, would save the city $3 million dollars annually while maintaining the same level of police services from last year.
The budgetary process has also indicated that Richmond is working with a sizable surplus this year (roughly $15.6 million dollars). These noticeable increases in the City’s revenue streams came thanks to voters who passed Measure H, known as the Real Estate Transfer Tax, in 2018. Because of this surplus, we can afford to fund the Reimagine proposals and not take all the funds from the police. The availability of these funds, coupled with the money that can be trimmed from the police budget, makes layoffs unnecessary.Read more
One recurring worry about the Reimagine Public Safety Community Task Force proposals has been the accusation that the Task Force is recommending untested public safety practices. Critics and concerned residents both, particularly those with memories of Richmond’s violent crime rate through 2010, have expressed understandable anxiety about the return of rampant gun violence and indiscriminate shootings. But these fears and anxieties are unwarranted. Richmond already has a proven program in place—the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS). What ONS needs is adequate funding to expand and continue their groundbreaking work.
Richmond began the work of reimagining policing in 2007, when it established ONS. At the time, Richmond was ranked the ninth most dangerous city in the country, and previous efforts to curb shootings and other violent crime yielded little discernible success. The ONS was not shy about taking a new approach: it would not be another arm of Richmond’s police force. Instead, the new program harnessed deep knowledge of our community, data aggregation, and cutting-edge theories about violence to craft its strategy.
City Council meeting agenda on June 1 contained item J3, brought forward by City Manager Laura Snideman’s office. While city staff was tasked by Council on May 10, 2021 to integrate the approved Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force proposals into this year’s City budget, the staff report for tonight’s item indicates that the City Manager has chosen to go beyond the purview of her authority. At stake are not only the vital issues of police accountability and racial justice, but also the democratically-bestowed mandate of our progressive City Council members. RPA members are thus strongly encouraged to make public comments during meetings on the matter.Read more