MONDAY, APRIL 6, 1998202/307-0703


WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Richmond, California has been a Justice Department pilot site to test more effective methods to investigate and prevent homicides. Since December 1995, Richmond has been implementing a homicide reduction program based on recommendations from the International Association of Chiefs of Police's (IACP) 1995 Murder Summit.

In December 1995 Richmond received a $350,000 grant from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to implement a program that incorporated elements of IACP's 39 Summit recommendations. Now, two years into the project, BJA has released "Strategies for Reducing Homicide: The Comprehensive Homicide Initiative in Richmond, California," which details the city's progress to date.

"Richmond, California has done a commendable job planning and initiating its program," said BJA Director Nancy Gist. "The city's early experiences will no doubt help other sites to implement similar homicide reduction strategies."

In 1994, the year before Richmond began planning its homicide initiative and changing the way it viewed and investigated homicides, there were 52 murders in Richmond, including 45 in which a gun was used. In 1995, the total number of homicides fell to 27--23 of which involved a gun. There were 34 homicides in Richmond in 1996, 32 of which were committed with a gun.

The initiative has helped Richmond officials to stop looking at homicides as isolated crimes and start considering them as more complex problems stemming from other community-related problems. Richmond's plan emphasized the need to focus on longer-term prevention, as well as strengthening local law enforcement agencies' ability to respond to and investigate homicides immediately after they occur.

As the initiative progressed, Richmond officials determined a definite link between domestic abuse and murder, so they added a component to address violence against women. They also identified violence among youths as leading to many homicides, so among the approaches to reduce these types of murders, Richmond officials worked with the juvenile justice system to establish a youth court program.

Richmond's strategy has also heavily relied on community-oriented policing. Officers in high crime areas have been able to learn more about the areas they patrol and have positive interactions with residents. They also have been able to learn more about the factors that contribute to homicides.

During the planning process, the Richmond Police Department established 11 measurable goals in two broad categories. The first set of goals assesses the initiative's process in each program or plan of action. The second considers outcomes for each activity, including measuring the frequency of crime and violence and evaluating street conditions that may contribute to violence and homicides.

For additional information about BJA or its programs, visit its Internet web site at: For information on OJP and its programs, visit its web site at: To obtain a copy of the document, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service at 1-800/851-3420.

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BJA 98-061

For additional information, contact Doug Johnson at 202/616-3559