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Council Update - 01/24/23

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Good afternoon, Richmond! City Council meetings, which typically take place every first, third, and fourth Tuesday of the month, can be hard to watch. They’re long, dense with information, and sometimes a little trying. But they’re important! And I hope to share my thoughts on the meetings as often as I can. So here is a short recap of two key items from last night, as well as a few of my thoughts on them. M1. Richmond Police Department’s Crime Statistics Trend and Reporting Changes. Every fourth Tuesday, Police Chief Bisa French gives a crime report. Last night, we learned:

  1. RPD data shows crime has been decreasing for the past 5 years in Richmond. This is terrific news. There are still real public safety issues in our city, but the data shows we’re headed in a great direction. Progressives have been pushing for increased investments in a mental health crisis response program, traffic safety infrastructure, gun violence prevention, and more. These are investments I support wholeheartedly, and I know we’re going to keep seeing improvements in our city’s safety.

  2. There are big changes coming in RPD’s future crime statistics reporting. I really want residents to understand what this change means because, as Chief French warned in her presentation, it will initially look like crime has gone up, even when it hasn’t.

Currently, RPD uses the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Summary Reporting System (SRS) method. After a recommendation from the FBI, RPD is switching to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

Graphic with an example showing the difference in reporting data from the old system to the new system.

I have serious concerns about this new data collection method. Councilmember Robinson expressed my concerns about this change with her analysis perfectly. Her comments begin at the 3:05:14 mark of the City Council meeting.

I also appreciate Chief French’s dedication to communicating these changes to our community. We discussed that this change should not be misused to represent the progress being made on public safety in this city. A remaining question I have is whether these crime stats would be amended if the DA decides not to pursue the initial charges for whatever reason.

graphic with agenda item number and some images of mockups of what the bridge would look like. It's a bridge that takes the shape of a osprey sowwping down to catch some fish

R2. Presentation of the Richmond Greenway Gap Closure Study First, I want to thank departing Infrastructure Administrator Patrick Phelan for his work— not just on this project, but on his years of service to Richmond. His dedication has changed our city on a literal level, and for the better. We are sad to see him leave our Public Works Department. This item provides updates on the City’s plan to bridge current gaps on the Richmond Greenway. I was particularly excited to hear these updates, as the Greenway is one of my favorite public spaces in our city. Currently, the Greenway gap forces pedestrians and bicyclists to traverse the East and West sides of the path across several high speed streets. Closing this gap is an essential investment in our well-being as a city. This isn’t a short-term endeavor, but it will both beautify the city and make the Greenway functionally safer. Standout information from the presentation includes:

  • The bridge itself is a literal connector – stitching together the Iron Triangle, Atchison Village, Coronado, and Pullman neighborhoods, which have long been boxed in by railroad lines and high-speed streets.

  • The project will also include significant improvements to traffic safety in the surrounding areas. Neighborhood Traffic Calming measures will include elements like speed humps or tables, traffic circles, and raised intersections.

  • Construction for the bridge is estimated to cost between $30 to $40 million. The City will actively seek funding for the bridge, transportation, and park improvements within the next five years.

And that was our last City Council meeting for the month of January! Congratulations to all new Councilmembers for completing their first month on the job. It’s already been such a pleasure getting to know each of you.

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