Portsmouth Police reaching out to community to help heal

Posted at 3:32 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-26 23:31:24-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. -Police Chief Tonya Chapman held her second community walk at the Port Norfolk Community Center at 6 p.m. on May 26.

It's part of many new programs she's working on to build a new Portsmouth and regain trust in the crime-ridden city.

On May 10, Chief Chapman, Portsmouth PD Chaplains, members of the Behavioral Health Services and local faith leaders completed their first R.E.S.E.T. (Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma) walk from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the 900 block of Suburban Parkway.

Chief Chapman's goal is to reach out to members in that particular community, ensuring them the police department understands what's going on and to discuss how the department can help in light of violence in the city.

Chief Chapman plans on going beyond the walks to achieve her goal.

"I'm starting a young adult police chiefs commission. That's where we're getting kids from the high schools. They're going to be our ambassadors, we're going to be mentors to them," said Chief Chapman, who believes the interaction with police should start from a younger age.

That's not all. In June, the Portsmouth Police Department will be switching to geographical policing. Currently, the city is broken into five public safety areas and officers work different beats in those areas.  Once the city is redistricted, there will be three districts and officers will be assigned to one. That way officers don't have to trek across town for calls.

'We've discussed the fire stations and different localities throughout the city where we could have substations," said Chief Chapman.

Some residents in Port Norfolk said they appreciate the police presence and think of it as a way to battle crime.

"Anytime you have police around, just the fact that a car is visible, when I see them ride down the street, I know someone is looking out for me and my community and I always feel much better," said Karen Didio.

Chief Chapman said it's responses like those pushing her forward.

"A momentum that we're trying to keep it going, everyone's really excited right now, I'm excited, it's just really encouraging," said Chief Chapman.

The next walk is scheduled for June 30, in Cavalier Manor.