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Crime and Punishment, RPD Update 11-19-09


I hope you find this update of recent RPD activities useful and informative.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the excellent work being done by a wide group of our personnel!  Please contact me if you have any questions or would like additional information.


Chief Chris Magnus


Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009, 11:15 a.m., 300 block of Ohio St.--A neighbor called 911 to report a male adult prying open the front door of a residence in the 300 block of Ohio St.  Officers responded and caught a 50 year-old male suspect inside the residence, removing the copper pipes.  He was booked for Burglary and a records check revealed he was arrested four times last year for the same crime.  The department’s Investigations personnel were notified.


Assault with a Firearm Update:  A number of RPD personnel, including Det. Avon Dobie, participated in the shooting investigation following a serious shooting at 2119 Burbeck Ave. on Nov. 10, 2009.  As of Nov. 17th, Deputy District Attorney Simpson filed Attempted Murder and Assault with a Deadly Weapon (firearm) charges (plus enhancements and special allegation) against suspect Javier Manzo (aka: Simon Camacho).  The suspect’s bail was set at $1,120,000.00 dollars.  Good job by all those involved.


Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009, 4:50 a.m., 1100 block of Ells St.--Officers responded to the above listed address when the victim’s mother reported that her daughter had just escaped from an apartment where she was being held by her boyfriend.   The suspect was identified as a 20 year-old male with a no-bail Parole At Large (PAL) warrant.

            As Officers were arriving in the area, Officer Longacre saw a subject matching the suspect’s description, carrying a green backpack, run south across Bayview from Ells and into the block.  Officers pursued the suspect while other officers checked on the victim.  While doing a welfare check at the apartment, where the door was standing open, the officers discovered in excess of fifty marijuana plants that had been strung along the ceiling in a drying operation.

            The victim, who returned to the apartment, had bruising to her chest and arms.  The victim told officers she had been released from the hospital on November 11 and since returning to her apartment, the suspect had held her captive. 

            Officers again spotted the suspect in the area of Carl and Carlson.  Once again, he fled into the block.   Officers established a perimeter to contain the suspect’s flight.  San Pablo Canine Officer Melgoza and his partner, Argos, along with SPPD Sergeant Alameda, arrived to assist officers with a canine search of the block.

            A caller reported seeing movement in shrubbery in front of 1369 Mariposa.  As officers converged on the area, the suspect was caught at the northeast corner of Carl and Carlson as he once again tried to flee the area.

            Officer Cantrell and his canine partner, along with Officer Longacre, conducted a search of the suspect’s path of flight in an effort to locate the green backpack.  The backpack was located to the rear of the 1300 block of Santa Clara.   Over one and one-half pounds of marijuana and a Rock Island 1911 .45 pistol were seized from the backpack.


Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009, Nevin Park—Officers Stonebreaker and Evans worked with Crime Prevention Manager Michelle Milam to hold a bicycle safety clinic and helmet give-away at Nevin Park.  Jeff, the owner of The Peddler Bicycles (El Sobrante) volunteered his time and tools to tune up the bicycles of Iron triangle youngsters.  Jeff will donate his time and talent again when the Police Department holds a similar event next spring.



Friday, Nov. 13, 2009—Richmond/ San Rafael Bridge-- Detective Tong coordinated a stolen vehicle recovery operation at the I-580 Richmond Bridge west bound toll booth under the supervision of Sergeant Silva.  One arrest was made of a parolee that drove through the toll booth in a reported stolen vehicle.  The suspect was booked for possession of stolen property, auto theft, and a parole violation.


Outstanding Gang Validation Efforts—Officer Receives Commendation—Officer Steve Purcell, a beat officer assigned to the Northern District who patrols the Parchester Village neighborhood received the following Bureau Commendation from the department:


Officer Steve Purcell is commended on his accomplishments while dealing with the crimes and intimidation caused by a Richmond gang known as “The Parchester Villains.”  He has taken a personal ownership in the investigation of this gang and dedicated years to deterring these criminals and dissolving their criminal enterprise.


For the past five years, Officer Purcell has been working in the Northern District, mostly focusing his patrol time around the Hilltop area.  This has allowed him a unique opportunity to cultivate informants, identify criminals, and gain the trust of the community.  All of these factors played a role as he began to realize there was a group of approximately thirty criminals who were committing murders, robberies, blatant dug dealing, and other serious felonies in and around Parchester Village. 


Parchester Village is one of Richmond’s historic neighborhoods, with many second and third generation residents.  An obvious obstacle for law enforcement officers when dealing with crimes in Parchester Village is that there are only two ways in and out of the residential neighborhood.  This makes it difficult to enter the area and catch crimes in progress or patrol the streets unnoticed.  Officer Purcell circumvented these challenges by gaining the trust of informants and community members as well as by being accessible on his cell phone.


The results of his efforts have become apparent.  His intimate knowledge of the criminals affiliated with the “Parchester Villains” was pivotal when the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department was investigating a homicide committed by four of the Parchester Villains in North Richmond. 


Recently, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office was able to designate this group of criminals as a “validated criminal street gang.”  Officer Purcell’s testimony, given in front of a Grand Jury, was the best evidence presented in making their case.  His work has now given all law enforcement officers the ability to greatly enhance the charges and punishments for any future crimes committed by these gang members.  In addition, Officer Purcell’s work has qualified him in Bay Municipal Superior Court as an expert regarding the dealings of this gang, based on his ability to explain the hierarchy and impact of this gang on the law-abiding residents of Parchester Village.


The best example of the importance of Officer Purcell’s accomplishments was the arrest of Deandre Alexander.  Alexander was notorious for shooting and robbing people--and he had emerged as a true public enemy when he decided to try and take control of the gang.  His violence had escalated and become more impulsive and unpredictable.  Officer Purcell arrested Alexander with a firearm, equipped with a laser sight.  His ability to validate Alexander as a member of the Parchester Villains changed his exposure to prison from only a two year sentence to over a decade of incarceration.


Officer Purcell’s approach and philosophy in doing his job is the essence of solid police work.  By getting to know the good residents of the community as well as the criminals, he has been able to make a huge improvement in the quality of life for the people who live on his beat.  By training other officers, he is also ensuring the future effectiveness of the Richmond Police Department.  Officer Purcell is commended for his outstanding service and for a job well done.


“One Block at a Time”, Sat., November 14, 2009 (Article from Richmond Confidential.org)

‘Taking the city back, one block at a time’

By: Karen McIntyre | November 17, 2009 – 6:00 am |

An hour and a half after city groups and residents starting cleaning streets in the Iron Triangle on a recent Saturday morning, they had filled the equivalent of more than 125 carloads of trash.

“We saw everybody taking out stuff, so we decided to take out stuff too,” said Isabel Saavedra, 30, whose mother lives on Third Street.

Graciela Valenzuela, 14, a Richmond High School freshman, was one of several residents in four square blocks of the Iron Triangle who spent the day raking, washing and scrubbing the inside and outside of their homes as part of the One Block at a Time event to clean neglected and rundown areas.

“I think it’s cool because we can throw out things we don’t need anymore,” said Valenzuela, who said she has lived in the same house for 10 years.

The girl’s family threw out a sewing machine, old furniture and a washing machine among other things.

“Now that we have the opportunity, they’re throwing everything away,” she said as she watched her stepdad carry loads of trash and recyclables to the dumpsters at the end of her street.

The idea of One Block at a Time is to give residents a jumpstart on cleaning their neighborhood, said Tim Higares, a manager in the Richmond Police Department’s Code Enforcement Unit.

“We knock door to door. We send flyers out in Spanish and English. And we explain to them what we’re going to do,” Higares said. “We didn’t want to come in here and make it an enforcement day.”

A part of the effort included clearing vacant properties.

Code Enforcement Officer Teresa Tingle estimated at least 30 percent of the 120 properties in that day’s target area were vacant, most in some stage of foreclosure. Teams of people cleared out and boarded up a few of those houses.

“We walk into a lot of those properties and they have condoms and feces and bio hazards,” Higares said. “You never know what you’re going to walk into.”

Gang members, homeless people and other squatters often stay in the vacant homes, sometimes using a bathtub or a room as a toilet because the houses usually don’t have running water. A woman was removed from a foreclosed house at 680 Fourth St. on that Saturday morning.

“We’re not in the business of putting people who are hard on their luck out on the street,” Higares said. But, “we can’t leave it like this.”

The city’s foreclosure ordinance says properties must be maintained and secured. When a code enforcement officer finds a vacant home, like the one at 680 Fourth St., that officer sends a notice to the bank that owns the property. The bank then has 10 to 30 days to comply, usually to show up and secure the property.

“The problem is the banks aren’t showing up,” Higares said.

When a bank doesn’t secure a home, the city has to pay for the heavy duty window and door boarding, locks, abatement crews, permits, court costs and dumping fees associated with clearing and securing the property. That costs from $3,000 to $7,000 per property, Higares said. Victor Mejia with the Code Enforcement Unit spent four hours clearing garbage-filled weeds and blackberry bushes 9 feet tall and too thick to see through from one small property that has been vacant for a decade.

“What you see us doing here, that’s the bank’s job,” Higares said. “All the wood, all the time, all the tools; that’s tax payers’ money basically.”

David Rogowski, code enforcement officer in the Iron Triangle, said he’s been trying since June or July to contact Deutsche Bank, which owns the foreclosed house on Fourth Street. He said the bank owes more than $30,000 for not responding.

When asked why the bank has not responded, a Deutsche Bank representative told Richmond Confidential that the bank is the trustee, and the mortgage company is responsible.

Rogowski said his job is challenging and sometimes dangerous, but also interesting and satisfying, especially on days like Saturday. He said he thought almost all the residents who were home helped with the event. Children as young as 3 years old carried waste to the dumpsters.

“This is an education process. This is changing culture,” Rogowski said.

One Block at a Time has been happening in a different Richmond neighborhood each quarter for about two years. On Saturday, the focus was Second, Third and Fourth streets between Pennsylvania and Ripley avenues. Rogowski said he hopes to target Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets next quarter. Participants included the Richmond Police Department and its Explorer Program, the Building Department, Public Works, City Manager’s Office, Parks and Recreation, RichmondWORKS and Sims Metal Management, which recycles metal and gives the money earned back to the community.

Residents said they were happy to see the cleanup effort.

“Look at my face. I’m smiling,” said Jose Rios, who said he has lived on Fourth Street for almost nine years.

A man trying to sell or rent property in the Iron Triangle said he was also thankful.

“We were going to clean up anyway,” Gabriel Scurlock said. “I save money by not having to take things to the dump and pay.”

Scurlock said he planned to clean alleys in the neighborhood in addition to the properties he owns.

“The cleaner it is, the more quality residents it attracts,” he said. “This is the future of Richmond.”

The code enforcement officer in the Iron Triangle agreed.

“This is all that it’s about,” Rogowski said. “Taking the city back one block at a time.”