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Violence Reduction Efforts and RPD Activity - Sept. 2009

From: Chris Magnus
Subject: Violence Reduction Efforts and RPD Activity--Sept. 2009


            The past few days have been particularly violent ones in our city—and even though the violence has been primarily concentrated in a relatively small area, the impact is felt throughout the community.  As you can imagine, keeping up with five homicides and twice that many shootings happening over a very short period of time is no easy situation for our personnel.  Our patrol officers were literally run ragged this weekend and our detectives were pushed to their limits in terms of dealing with so many major investigations at one time.  Despite this, our personnel not only responded immediately to all major crimes, they conducted thorough investigations, which included interviewing witnesses, doing neighborhood canvasses, processing evidence, and tracking down suspects.  On top of all that, they handled MANY other calls for service of a less critical, but still important nature. 

            You’ll forgive me if I get a little defensive when I hear folks suggest that RPD needs to be “more aggressive” or that we should “take a tougher stand” when it comes to dealing with criminals.  Every single day, our officers and detectives are literally putting their lives on the line to chase down violent criminals, confiscate guns and drugs, and make arrests.  Unfortunately, the Police Department is only one component of the larger criminal justice system.  We do not have control over how criminals are charged; which cases get dropped, plead out, or go to court; and what kind of sentences individuals receive who have committed violent or serial property crimes.  We know who is responsible for many of the shootings and assaults that are committed, but the real challenge is having victims and witnesses who are willing to cooperate, sufficient physical and other evidence to meet the charging requirements of the D.A., and the overall resources to stay on top of so many serious cases.  We also are bound by our oath of office to protect everyone’s Constitutional rights and to follow the law when it comes to how we enforce the law.  If we stop doing that, then the police have become part of the problem—which is unacceptable and wrong. 

            In addition to these issues, we have hundreds of parolees and probationers who have committed serious crimes returning to the community on an ongoing basis.  The State and County simply do not have the personnel or other resources to monitor all these folks.  We spend a significant amount of our time doing Parole and Probation Compliance Checks—simply because if we don’t do them, they won’t get done. 


            In response to the recent violence we are taking a multi-faceted approach that includes the following:

·         Assigning more officers to key hotspot locations, with a special focus on the Cutting/Carlson corridors;

·         Conducting specialized surveillance and undercover efforts to track the activities of individuals we know to be most heavily involved in violent crime;

·         Coordinating Parole and Probation Compliance Checks and searches with State Parole personnel;

·         Increasing traffic enforcement in higher crime areas (traffic enforcement often leads to other enforcement actions);

·         Implementing a new Downtown Foot/Bicycle patrol team that will focus on the downtown area, Nevin Park, and nearby neighborhoods with a focus on crime reduction, police-community relations, and crime prevention (starting 9/21);

·         Exploring supplemental contacts with the D.A.’s Office for additional Deputy D.A.s assigned specifically to Richmond who would work out of the Richmond Police Department and exclusively handle Richmond cases;

·         Working with neighborhood groups and others to consider juvenile daytime and nighttime curfews to better protect youth and reduce juvenile crime;

·         Stepping up efforts related to Crime Free Housing efforts (to rid various apartment complexes of tenants or their guests who are involved in violence and other criminal activities)

·         Expanding the monitoring of the department’s CCTV system (already proven very helpful in identifying suspects and suspect vehicles)

Here is a brief sampling of some recent enforcement activities that have taken place within the past several days.  As usual, you can see a lot of good work is being done.  Please feel free to contact me if you have more questions or would like additional information.

Chief Chris Magnus

Richmond Police Department

Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, 9:35 p.m., 535 S. 17th St.--Officers Jensen and Palma engaged a vehicle in a brief pursuit that was initiated in the 2600 block of Cutting Blvd. and terminated in the 1800 block of Cutting Blvd. when the driver bailed from the vehicle and fled southbound into the block.  As the suspect fled, the officers observed him carrying a firearm.  While running in the area of the 500 block of S. 17th St., the suspect turned and brandished the firearm at the pursuing officers.  The officers believed the suspect fired the weapon while brandishing it at them.  Fearing for their lives, they returned gunfire and broadcast “Shots Fired”.  Perimeters were established and a coordinated search for the suspect was undertaken.  Canine Arrow tracked to the 1600 block of Hoffman Boulevard.  Suspect Joe Blacknell, Jr.—who is very well known to the Police Department--was located on the roof of 1605 Hoffman Boulevard.  A firearm was discovered atop the roof.  Officers Jensen and Palma responded to the location and positively identified Blacknell as the individual they pursued.  They suspect vehicle was a vehicle that had been carjacked out of the City of Oakland.  Neither suspect Blacknell nor the officers were injured in the exchange of gunfire.  Suspect Blacknell was booked for multiple felony charges.

Sun., Sept. 13, 2009—RPD Gang Unit detectives, Sgt. Monahan and Det. Pomeroy, were covertly surveilling the area of S. 28th Street and Maine Avenue.  While conducting surveillance at this location, the officers observed two subjects walking in the area who are well known to the department based on their past involvement with violent crime. 

The officers noted that one of these subjects had a semi-automatic firearm tucked in his waistband. The two subjects ran and entered a vehicle that was parked in the area. The officers broadcast the information to patrol units and Sgt. Peixoto located the suspect vehicle driving northbound on S. 23rd Street.  He attempted to effect a traffic stop, however, the subjects failed to yield and a traffic pursuit ensued.  During the pursuit, the passenger, threw the handgun out of the window.  The subjects drove at high rates of speed out into the North Richmond area where they abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into the project housing complex. 

The driver of the vehicle, was taken into custody after a brief foot pursuit.  The passenger escaped capture by the officers—but will be arrested later. Both subjects are “Easter Hill Boys” (EHB/Beam Team) gang members.

            This incident is significant in that one of these individuals is one of our targeted subjects who we believe is a catalyst for the violence that occurs in the community.  The officers were unable to recover the handgun, however they were able to locate the magazine. The first suspect was booked into the RPD Jail and we anticipate that a warrant will be issued for the other suspect’s arrest sometime this afternoon.

Sat., Sept. 12, 2009, 11:50 p.m., 5327 Van Fleet Ave.--Officer Loucas responded to this  area to look for a small 2-door grey vehicle with dents on the passenger side that might have been involved in an auto theft attempt.  While traveling north on San Joaquin Ave., he observed a 2-door grey Acura Integra parked at San Joaquin Ave. and Fresno Ave.  The vehicle closely matched the description of the suspect vehicle.  This vehicle was occupied by three subjects.  He identified one of the subjects as a 22 year-old male.  This subject had been arrested for vehicle theft and activities related to a “chop shop.”   Officer Loucas smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.  He ordered the occupants out of the vehicle and conducted a search.  He discovered three dime-sized baggies containing green plant material.

            Officer Loucas quizzed one of the other occupants of the vehicle and learned that while this individual was driving in the area, he noticed his brake lights were out.  Needing a fuse, this individual saw the victim’s vehicle, used a shave key to make entry, and removed some fuses.  The suspects then drove away from the victim’s vehicle.  (A closer inspection of victim’s vehicle revealed that the ignition had been tampered with.)  The suspect was taken into custody.  During an inventory search of the suspect’s vehicle, Officer Loucas discovered tools in the back seat, an instrument panel from a Honda vehicle, two ski masks, multiple car stereo faceplates, and a portion of an exhaust system.  The suspect was booked on multiple charges.

CCTV Success!  On September 2, 2009, a serious assault occurred at the intersection of S.37th St. and Wall Ave.  The assault was captured on camera by the Richmond P.D. CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) system and provided responding officers with immediate descriptions of the suspects.  Two of the suspects were immediately arrested and have since been charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon (with Great Bodily Injury enhancements). Two additional suspects were later identified by Officer A. Mikell and his recruit, Officer P. Reyes-Garcia.  As of September 10, several suspects have outstanding Ramey Warrants for their arrests related to this incident.

Sat., Sept. 12, 2009, 1:15 a.m., Richmond Parkway/Atlas Rd.--Pinole P.D. officers requested emergency assistance as their officers pursued a Jeep Cherokee in the area of Atlas Road and Richmond Pkwy.  The vehicle had been taken during an armed carjacking.  Pinole officers reported that it was occupied by three males.  Two of these individuals were armed with firearms.  The vehicle apparently made a maneuver to pull over on Atlas Rd., east of Giant Rd.  It became involved in a traffic collision.  Pinole officers then announced “11-99 Emergency Help Needed--Shots Fired.”  They also reported that they had two suspects at gunpoint on the railroad tracks.  Officers responded from all local agencies, some as far away as Rio Vista and Oakley.

            Two suspects were detained at the scene of the traffic collision.  One of the suspects was deceased.  The cause of death could neither be attributed to gunshot injuries nor the impact from the collision.  The third suspect was outstanding.  Two firearms were located.  Canines from CCSO, BART, and RPD were deployed to track the outstanding suspect.  All efforts to locate him were negative (however he was identified later).  The suspect’s vehicle  was located on Marlesta Court in Pinole.  Richmond P.D.’s Homicide detectives invoked the Contra Costa County Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol.  The District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation team responded to coordinate the investigation.   

            RPD’s investigators tracked the outstanding suspect from this Officer Involved Shooting investigation to Vallejo.  The department’s investigators coordinated with RPD’s SWAT team once a perimeter around the suspect’s residence was established.  The suspect was not at this location, but realizing the police were “closing in on him,” he did turn himself in to Pinole Police Department later in the day.  RPD responded to bring the suspect back to Richmond for interview and incarceration.  Investigators and SWAT served several search warrants in Vallejo without incident and recovered evidence in this case.

Thur., Sept. 10, 2009, 2400 block of Andrade—RPD’s Special Investigations Division (SID) Narcotics Detectives arrested an individual at a residence in this block and seized a significant amount of both money and narcotics. The suspect is a parolee who was wanted on numerous felonies and was the subject of a county-wide “Be On the Lookout” from Concord PD this week.  He was located at the above residence, hiding under a bed. 

Wed., Sept. 9, 2009-- Officer J. Clark located an occupied stolen vehicle which had been taken during a residential burglary in Novato CA.  The suspect began to evade and started to pose an immediate risk to the safety of the community.  The pursuit was terminated, but a short time later a member of the community alerted Officer Clark to the location of the suspect and vehicle. 

Officers Lonso and Chesney arrived at the scene and cornered the suspect who was taken into custody.  The suspect was positively identified as the driver and was placed under arrest.  At the time of arrest, the suspect had the keys to the stolen vehicle and property belonging to the victim(s) from Novato.  Officer Therriault documented the property in the car, which included 25 bottles of wine.  When detectives from Novato arrived at RPD, they noticed the documentation by Officer Therriault about the wine bottles.  This is when RPD Det. Hall learned that during the burglary, the suspect had taken the victim’s complete vintage wine collection dating back to the late sixties and early seventies.  The victim initially had seventy five bottles of vintage wine stolen with an estimated value of $9,000.00. 

On Sept. 11, 2009,  Det. Hall presented the case to the Contra Costa County District Attorneys Office where he secured multiple felony and other charges against the suspect.  In addition, the suspect has three strikes on his record, which tripled his bail amount to $339,000.00 and added an additional $500,000.00, for a total bail amount of $839,000.00. 

Wed., Sept. 9, 2009, 11:40 a.m., 2427 Groveview Ct.--A neighbor called 911 to report two juveniles climbing into her neighbor’s house.  As officers responded, the suspects left the residence and began to flee with property.  Officer D. Jackson, who is familiar with the unique geography of the neighborhood, coordinated the officers’ response to intercept the suspects.  The juveniles, aged 13 and 15, were detained by K-9 Officer Moreno and Motor Officer Carmichael at Robert H. Miller Dr. and San Pablo Ave.  They had the victim’s property on them and were ID’d in an in-field show-up.  The suspects were transported to Juvenile Hall on Residential Burglary charges. 

Wed., Sept. 9, 2009, 1:15 p.m., 2100 Macdonald Ave.--Officer Shanks was on patrol when he saw an individual he recognized from prior police contacts walking down the street.  Officer Shanks knew this individual was wanted for the homicide which occurred on the 24th of Aug. 2009 in the 200 block of 24th Street.  Officer Shanks detained the suspect and took him into custody when cover arrived.  Investigations was notified and Det. Rood interviewed the suspect.