Want to Reduce Crime? Try Paying People

Friday, June 27, 2014

(Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

For years, Richmond, California has had one of the nation's worst homicide rates. Despite pouring millions of dollars into anti-crime programs, there seemed to be no sign of the problem getting better.

Until 2007 when the city tried something new.

Richmond introduced a new program to improve relations between the community and law enforcement—the initiative wasn't so much a reform program, but a radical rethinking of how police treat the people most likely to commit or be victims of violent crimes.

With a bit of data-mining, and a bit of well-timed mentoring, the experimental Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) began concentrating its efforts on individuals who were most likely to end up as defendants and victims.

The ONS picked these individuals to be part of a class of "fellows" and offered them additional resources—and as much as $1,000 a month for avoiding dangerous behavior and staying on track with positive goals.

It may sound far-fetched, but so far the program's results are promising: In 2013, Richmond had the lowest number of homicides in 33 years.

Rohnell Robinson, a fellow in Richmond, California's Office of Neighborhood Safety Program, explains the program's impact on his own life.


Rohnell Robinson


T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]

BigGuy from NYC

John's comment at the end "Bigger things ahead", was a little snarky. He did not realize that and his editors at the Takeaway didn't realize it either. You have to edit him, even if it means losing your job.

Jun. 30 2014 09:42 AM
Tim Reeves from Berkeley, California

"relations between police and law enforcement"??

Jun. 27 2014 08:52 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

In the beginning of the week, I challenged The Takeaway to find a Police situation in which the outlook was positive. You guys did it with this story !

I don't understand what is happening exactly in the story but Richmond's homicide rate is the lowest in 33 years. I don't care how its going down to tell you the truth. I just wish they would do it here in New York.

All the folks who would be dead otherwise would thank Richmond if they knew how it saved their life.

Jun. 27 2014 01:56 PM

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