NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — City officials in Newport News have launched a community-based survey aimed at addressing safety concerns.
The 36-question survey is open to Newport News residents of all ages. They will be asked to share their thoughts on safety in the city, experiences with crime, perceptions of causal factors of crime, their input on police and experiences with discrimination.
Newport News Mayor McKinley Price said, "Every survey is important to us, every neighborhood is important to us, and that's why it's targeting specific questions to get a response in their particular neighborhood."
Yvonne Carter, a Newport News mother, has experienced the impact of gun violence firsthand.
"I can't tell you why anyone would want to kill Devon. He was a fun-loving person - always wanted to help someone," said Yvonne.
23-year-old Devon Carter, a father of three girls and an aspiring music artist, was shot and killed January 23, 2021. Devon's mother tells News 3 he was a wonderful friend and son who had big dreams.
"He read me a text, and I read it at the funeral. It said even if he left this earth before me to be strong, stronger than I've ever been because I'm the strongest person he knows," Yvonne said.
"It's not random shootings or violence going on. These are relationships, so we need to concentrate on conflict of violence," said Mayor Price.
This has prompted Mayor Price to partner with Newport News Police, the Newport News Sheriff's Department and Christopher Newport University to conduct research to tackle this issue.
According to officials, the responses from the survey will be used to create a strategy for addressing gun violence.
News 3 asked Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan if he's seen an increase among youth being charged with gun crimes this year, and he told us yes.
"Since January 1 to April 1 - and these are individual charges, not individual people - we've booked 865 weapon charges. It's a collaborative effort to solve this problem because I don't care where you live in the city; I don't care if you move to the county. If we don't fix this problem, it would be on your doorstep," Sheriff Morgan said.
The survey was the result of a $25,000 Youth and Gang Violence Community Assessment grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
Community organizations are invited to provide their contact information and a brief description of their efforts on the Community Safety Initiative webpage.