City of Portsmouth unveils new approach to combating crime

Portsmouth Stand Against Crime meeting (September 21).PNG
Posted at 3:00 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 16:36:04-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - More than two dozen children or teenagers have killed or injured by gunfire in Hampton Roads since late May.

Many of those shootings occurred in the City of Portsmouth.

City leaders stepped forward Tuesday recognizing they have a huge problem on their hands.

"I am tired of seeing young dead people that die for needless reasons," said Police Chief Renado Prince.

Prince delivering a sobering message to a packed council chambers.

"The safety of our community is priority number one," said Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover. "We have heard the citizens of Portsmouth speak out."

The city called the press conference to unveil a new three-prong approach as to how they plan to combat crime in the city, specifically crime plaguing our youth.

"We are trying to track guns where they came from and trying to track the source, and we are actively getting guns off street, but it's not enough to stem violence," said Chief Prince.

The new three-prong approach is Prevention, Intervention and Enforcement. They will do by starting with a $495,000 grant awarded by the Department of Criminal Justice.

"If people don't trust you, then don't want to talk to you or provide information to help you," said Chief Prince.

To regain and build that trust, they will spend that money to hire what they call "ambassadors" from grassroots organizations like Stop The Violence 757 and Act Now to infiltrate high crime communities.

"We are empowering them to go into the community and hire violence interrupters and mentors that interact with youth and people in city and introduce alternatives," explained Chief Prince.

"We know that when young people are engaged and they have something to do, it limits the interact to adversely impact them," said Mayor Glover.

Portsmouth Police, who are already short-numbered by 70 officers, stressed they can't tackle this problem alone - they say they need the citizens to step up and become part of the solution.

"The police department is a part of the community, not apart from the community. We have to take a stand, and we need you," he said.

Another strategy the city is doing is working with Dominion Energy to install street lights in dark neighborhoods in hopes to deter crime and hiding places for criminals.