The Richmond, California, Comprehensive Homicide Initiative combines place-oriented and offender-oriented responses to an epidemic of gun homicides in the city. Place-oriented strategies include towing potential getaway cars in areas with high numbers of drive-by shootings, enforcing building codes at drug nuisance locations, and assigning officers to particular schools. Offender-oriented strategies include intensive investigations, apprehensions of violent fugitives, and immediate responses to gang violence to prevent retaliation. The initiative departs from the traditional police definition of homicide as a unique offense in which the appropriate police role is largely limited to after-the-fact investigation, instead recognizing that homicide prevention is a critical police responsibility that can best be accomplished by identifying the paths that frequently lead to homicide and closing them by intervening early. With this new definition in mind, the initiative members developed a plan concentrated on specific problem areas, including targeting domestic violence; enhancing investigative capabilities; intervening in the lives of at-risk youths; and targeting outdoor-, gun-, drug-, and gang-related violence.
Provision of prevention and intervention programs is a unique feature of the initiative. Programs targeting at-risk youth include an Adopt-a-School Program, a Police Activities League (PAL) Computer Center, and a Truant Recovery Program. Domestic violence is also addressed through the provision of safety and support alternatives for battered women. An evaluation showed that the Comprehensive Homicide Initiative significantly reduced homicides in the city, particularly those involving guns. However, the impact on gang crime was mixed.
Exposure to firearm violence
Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)
High alcohol/drug use
High drug dealing
Illegal gun ownership/carrying
Availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood
Availability of firearms
Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood
Neighborhood youth in trouble
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
Peer alcohol/drug use
Model Programs Guide: Promising program
Richmond Police Department
2200 MacDonald Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804
Phone: (510) 621-1221
Fax: (510) 215-8085
White, M. D.; Fyfe, J. J.; Campbell, S. P.; and Goldkamp, J. S. (2003). “The Police Role in Preventing Homicide: Considering the Impact of Problem-Oriented Policing on the Prevalence of Murder.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40(2):194–225.
White, M. D.; Fyfe, J. J.; Campbell, S. P.; and Goldkamp, J. S. (2001). “The School-Police Partnership: Identifying At-Risk Youth Through a Truant Recovery Program.” Evaluation Review, 25(5):507–532.
White, M. D.; Fyfe, J. J.; Campbell, S. P.; and Goldkamp, J. S. (1997). Strategies for Reducing Homicide: The Comprehensive Homicide Initiative in Richmond, California. Bureau of Justice Assistance.