'It's heartbreaking': Portsmouth Mayor Glover starts Project Safe Neighborhood to curb gun violence

'It's heartbreaking,' Portsmouth Mayor Glover starts Project Safe Neighborhood to curb gun violence
Posted at 11:23 AM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 11:35:56-05

Portsmouth leaders are launching Project Safe Neighborhood, a group violence intervention strategy aimed to curb the city's ongoing gun violence.

The project starts by creating a working group of stakeholders, including trauma-trained healthcare professionals, workforce development groups, the U.S. Marshall's Office, local police departments, and more.

Project Safe Neighborhood is also working with violence interrupters like 757 Stop the Violence.

"[Violence interrupters] are folks that are within the community, that may have a criminal background or have done something in the past, but they've come back to society and they want to do good," explained Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover. "They can give us pertinent information."

Those groups will then initiate a call-in process, which uses probation officers, city jails, and detectives to identify people who have committed crimes and give them a second chance.

Those chosen will be given one chance to receive a variety of resources from their working group, including education and job training, making them productive members of the Portsmouth community.

"We're going to help you, we're going to provide you with resources, but you've got to do your part," said Mayor Glover.

The mayor says if those resources are denied, you will face the full extent of the law.

"We'll use every means of law enforcement to ensure they are held accountable for their crimes and their actions."

The groups will have a special focus on Portsmouth kids.

Mayor Glover says since the start of the new year, the city has lost at least five people under the age of 20 to gun violence.

Youth in the area will be offered the same resources and face the same consequences if they're denied.

"If young people that are in those kinds of activities want to improve, we want to be a resource to help them," he said. "But at the same time if they chose not to improve their lives and go the wrong way and engage in criminal activity, then we also will use the strong arm of the law to enforce and hold them accountable."

According to Mayor Glover, those resources will include helping kids find summer jobs, counseling, and vocational training.

He believes working with kids is the key to fixing the issue.

"We need to let young people know that they have a future in the city of Portsmouth," said Mayor Glover.

Mayor Glover says the project has been wildly successful across the country, including in Richmond.

The city of Boston saw a 63% reduction in youth homicides following the implementation of Project Safe Neighborhood.

The Portsmouth city council plans to hold a special meeting next week to further across these issues and how to best move forward with this new project.

Right now, the working group is identifying potential people to call-in and plans to start the call-in process in June.

Project Safe Neighborhood is expected to last about three years.