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Community Crisis Response Team (CCRP)Moves Forward

Dear Richmond residents, After the summer hiatus, what an incredible return to City Council meetings this past Tuesday night— the chambers were packed! It was especially exciting to see all the youth organizers in the crowd, there to advocate for Tiny Homes for unhoused youth and cutting-edge public safety programs. As a city, we made major progress on Richmond’s upcoming Community Crisis Response Program (CCRP) during the meeting. I want to share the details with you, as I believe this will be critical in improving public safety within Richmond. Here are some key takeaways:

  1. Everyone in Richmond can benefit from the CCRP program. CCRP’s core function is to respond to various mental health or lower-risk incidents and calls, all without the involvement of police, fire, or other Emergency Management Services (EMS) personnel. These well-trained teams will provide trauma-informed, timely, and safe services and resources to residents who need care.

  2. First, the City Council voted to place this initiative under the leadership of the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), Richmond’s nationally-renowned gun violence prevention program. I supported this decision because ONS has deep experience using data to prevent violence, providing a non-police response to public safety concerns, and establishing trust with the community.

  3. We also provided clear timelines for next steps. In November, city staff and the Urban Strategies Council, our partners in this effort, will provide more specific guidelines for getting the program up and running. Recruitment to staff the program will begin on December 15, 2023. Most excitingly, we have directed staff to plan for the program to be up and running by August 2024!

  4. Simultaneously, the Reimagining Public Safety Community Task Force will help us develop the Community Advisory Board, which will make sure community voices are at the table during the development and implementation of the program. This resident oversight will make sure the CCRP is providing Richmond with the services it needs.

We are, in short, witnessing another bold step in Richmond’s commitment to public safety innovation. Despite our historically low homicide rate this year, it’s not enough: we must continue to envision a violence-free city that supports all residents in need. Objectives of the CCRP The use of armed officers in non-violent situations can result in trauma and escalate conflicts. Distrust of police can deter residents from seeking assistance and cooperating with law enforcement efforts. And police department staffing challenges are now a fact nationwide, as more and more young people seek employment outside of policing. So, what’s the solution? The goal is for a CCRP response to:

  1. Reduce non-warrant arrests that may result during a 911 response.

  2. Reduce the number of residents transported to the emergency department when another solution is possible.

  3. Reduce the number of residents who frequently interact with the Richmond Police Department (RPD) and Richmond Fire Department (RFD).

  4. Reduce the number of low-level calls that RPD and RFD currently respond to; and

  5. Provide communities with a supportive response that helps connect residents to needed services.

What kinds of situations could the CCRP address? Every day, my staff and I speak with Richmond residents who call us or stop by our office with public safety concerns. These are situations that impact quality of life for Richmond residents, but an armed police response is either unwanted by the caller or unwarranted for the situation. For example: Neighbors hear a screaming match between a couple next door that seems to be escalating. The fight spills out into the street, but no physical violence between the couple has been witnessed by onlookers. An unhoused person is in a cafe because it’s raining outside, and customers seem uncomfortable with this person’s presence. The business owner and employees don’t feel equipped to interface with the unhoused visitor but want them to leave. In the middle of the night, a resident hears long, intense honking outside their home. It seems as if something is wrong, or the person behind the wheel may be in crisis, but the resident is worried about their safety in going outside to investigate. The resident also doesn’t feel comfortable calling the police, because they feel uncomfortable interacting with police and don’t want to unnecessarily get a neighbor in trouble. A resident has several cars parked in front of their home that seem to be the current homes of unhoused Richmond residents. The car’s occupants seem as if they may be engaged in regular drug use, and the resident has found syringes on the sidewalk several times. A dead-end street often has young people partying at the end of the block late at night in their cars. The attendees regularly make lots of noise, leave trash, and defecate on the street, which is impacting the neighborhood’s quality of life. The neighbors don’t feel comfortable confronting the party-goers directly, and the police either do not arrive in time to catch them doing something illegal, do not have the capacity to respond at all, or do not have staffing to post a police car on one street every night. A person wanders onto a homeowner’s front porch. It’s unclear if the person is disoriented, lost, or trespassing with intent to steal. If dispatched to one of these situations, the core CCRP team will assess the situation, engage with all parties involved, and de-escalate while identifying possible solutions. Many different scenarios may benefit from a CCRP response, while others might be better suited for police, fire, or EMS assistance. Sometimes, a situation may involve multiple public safety agencies. For further questions and answers, please see these questions and answers provided during the presentations. Financial Impact The City Council has already allocated $1 million to kickstart this initiative. The estimated cost to implement a full-scale CCRP—operational 24/7—ranges from $1.87 million to $2.37 million annually. We will have more exact numbers soon, and seeking ongoing grant funding will be an important part of the program’s sustainability. I want you to know that I fully support this initiative. It’s an opportunity for us to build a safer, more compassionate community. Progressive community organizers, racial justice advocates, and the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force have been an integral part of these discussions, and I’m so grateful for their bold vision and hard work to create a safer Richmond. To learn more about the program, visit the city’s Community Crisis Response Program Page. You can also read the full draft Implementation of the Community Crisis Response Program in Richmond here. In Community, Mayor Eduardo

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