PETERSBURG, Va. - Starting this week, more officers will be on Portsmouth streets to help tackle crime.
Virginia State Police (VSP) will be teaming up with Portsmouth Police Department officers on regular patrols and adding more investigative resources to PPD.
News 3 investigators uncovered recent data showing Portsmouth is down 88 officers, and more than a dozen shootings have taken place in the city since June 1.
“This is my city. I will not bow down,” Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince recently said.
Recent gun violence has been an issue impacting Hampton Roads and the country for quite some time.
“The entire nation, the entire Commonwealth, communities are absolutely heartbroken and scared,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently told News 3.
This all comes at a time when many departments within the Seven Cities are down dozens of officers.
“We do not have enough horsepower,” Youngkin said. “We need more feet on the street. We need more patrols.”
That’s also been the case for the Petersburg Police Department.
“We've had to utilize officers on their off-duty time to come out and supplement shifts at times,” Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian told News 3.
In April, a surge in gun violence in the city of Petersburg that sent kids to the hospital sent the department looking for help from Virginia State Police.
“We realized that at some point, because of short staff, our guys being stretched very thin, that we need to pull in additional resources,” Christian said. “It's different for our city to see Virginia State Police patrolling the streets of our city. Typically, we'd normally see a trooper on the interstates that go through the city.”
Chief Christian said they’ve been seeing results regarding this partnership with VSP in the last couple of months.
This includes a big impact when it comes to presence.
“The bad guys, the criminal element that have recently plagued our city with a lot of violence, has been put on notice,” he said. “Some of our calls for service has decreased as it relates to violent crimes. We still have a number of shots fired calls that we're concerned about. but we have seen a decrease in our homicides. We've seen a decrease in our aggravated assaults.”
He told News 3 that Petersburg Police teaming up with VSP has been positive among residents.
“Citizens are welcoming additional resources here,” Christian said. “Knowing there's a shortage, and knowing there's been an uptick in violence, I think that added resource here in our city has provided a sense of comfort for our citizens.”
Christian hopes Portsmouth will see success in its partnership with State Police. He also has advice for the entire Portsmouth community.
“It takes everybody. It takes every member of the community to do their part to keep their city safe,” he said. “This is not just a law enforcement project. This is something that everyone has to get involved in.”
Chief Christian said there's no set end date for Petersburg Police's partnership with VSP.
He told News 3 that his department will continue this partnership throughout the summer and evaluate it on a monthly basis while looking at results.