Walking into the classroom of Richmond’s Latina Center intimidated Maria Lourdes Sanchez. The other Spanish-speaking women in the room, who also came to develop their leadership skills, were welcoming. But Sanchez was still afraid.
Victims of domestic violence often fall through the cracks between police, social workers and health care providers. Contra Costa County is fighting that problem by preparing to centralize services for abused women in a one-stop center in Richmond.
Even as murder rates are declining across California and the nation, homicide is on the rise in Richmond, the gritty industrial city on the east side of San Francisco Bay. A resident of Richmond is nearly three times as likely to be murdered as someone in Los Angeles, Sacramento or San Francisco. Now the city government, police, churches and community groups are trying new approaches to reverse the trend.
The city of Richmond is close to adopting a new way of planning for the city’s future, adding a “health and wellness” element to its general plan that will force developers to address new concerns when they design neighborhoods or other projects. The city believes it would be the first in the nation with such a comprehensive requirement.
Gunfire is so common in Richmond, Calif., that residents of neighborhoods like the Iron Triangle no longer call 911 at the sound of shots fired, according to the city’s police department. In response, earlier this year, the city installed the ShotSpotter system. The sensors detect and pinpoint gunfire fired to a specific address, and call police to the scene less than a minute after shots are fired.