Richmond sees lowest number of homicides in decades in 2023

Richmond sees lowest number of homicides in decades in 2023
A memorial was set up in front of the Bay Area Smoke Shop on 23rd Street after a triple shooting in October. Photo/ Soren Hemmila

Richmond ended the year with the lowest homicide rate police could find on record, said Assistant Police Chief Tim Simmons during a report at the Community Police Review Commission Wednesday night.

The drop mirrors a nationwide trend of declining homicide rates.

“Eight was our official number,” Simmons said. “We have records going back 50-something years in the police department, and we have never even come close to that number.”

The Richmond 2023 Crime Statistics page on the city’s website lists 11 homicides, including an officer-involved shooting that resulted in a death and two vehicular manslaughter incidents. These three deaths were not considered homicides in the traditional sense, Simmons said. The officer-involved shooting is considered a justifiable homicide, and the two vehicular manslaughters were caused by people in cars.

Simmons did not attribute the decline in homicides to any single reason but instead cited several factors, including a tremendous amount of connectivity with the community, proactive officers working in tandem with the Office of Neighborhood Safety, and a new batch of officers hired within the last two years.

“It is a lot of things coming together at the right time for the right purposes working as they should be working,” Simmons said. “The whole system is working together to really firm up relationships with stakeholders, community members, and businesses.”

Despite the police department’s lack of resources to establish a full-time unit, Simmons said officers took the initiative to create an intelligence unit to engage the community and help police target individuals who engage in violent crime. 

“To their credit, the officers stepped up. They weren’t getting paid specialty pay. They weren’t allowed to have full-time assignments in that regard. But it didn’t deter them from wanting to serve the community,” Simmons said.

Jeff Asher, co-founder of AH Datalytics, which tracks homicide numbers nationwide, said the United States saw a dramatic decline in homicides in 2023, possibly one of the steepest drops on record.

YTD Murder Comparison - Dashboards - AH Datalytics

“Murder is down 12.7 percent in our YTD murder dashboard as of this writing (December 7) with a decline in 73 percent of the more than 175 cities with available data. The sample suggests either the largest or one of the largest national declines in murder on record occurred this year (both in terms of percent and absolute decline),” Asher wrote.

Faith in Action East Bay
Faith in Action East Bay held multiple peace walks in Richmond in an effort to reduce violence.

Locally, the city of East Palo Alto, once rivaling Richmond for the title of ‘murder capital’ of the US, reported zero homicides in 2023.

Eight people were killed in shootings in Richmond between March and November 2023.

In March, 43-year-old Danny Barnes died in a shooting on Aberdeen Way. In April, 17-year-old Union City resident Richard Cole Jr. died in a Triangle Court shooting. 

Bryant Barrios-Marroquin, 25, whose body was found in a burning truck in Oakland, died in a June 3 shooting. Brandon Cox, 17, died in a 3rd Street and Nevin Avenue shooting on August 26. 

Bruce Atkins, 44, of Richmond, and Edwin Quijano Bermudez, 34, of Vallejo, were killed on Oct.6 in a 23rd Street shooting. Arcjoseph Rodillo, 26, of San Pablo, died after a November 9 shooting on the Richmond Parkway. Homicide detectives investigated a shooting in the 600 block of South 37th Street on November 23.

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