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Newport News Police Chief releases city's 2021 crime numbers, aims to reduce gun violence

Generic: Newport News Police
Posted at 9:52 AM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 15:00:13-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Newport News Police Department released the city's official 2021 crime numbers on Friday.

Police Chief Steve Drew took the podium inside police headquarters around 10 a.m., announcing that total violent crime in Newport News was up 2.4 percent in 2021 compared to the year prior.

He also said the city saw 30 murders, up from 25 in 2020.

Most homicides, Drew says, occurred in the northern part of the city. He reports 11 of the 30 were motivated by arguments, the most prominent motive. Second highest was domestic at 7.

The Newport News Police Department reports solving 73 percent of homicides. The national average in 2020 was just under 50 percent, Drew says.

Opioid overdoses also appear to be on the rise with 261 non-fatal overdoses and 57 fatal in 2021, up from 229 and 49, respectively, in 2020.

Suicides numbered 29, down from 31 in 2020, however, still higher than any year from 2016 to 2019.

Illegal weapon seizures were also down, Drew announced, to 836 in 2021 from 1,076 in 2020.

Among goals of the department for 2021, Chief Drew praised social workers hired in the last year and outreach efforts to city youth.

"Our number one goal for this year is to reduce shootings and homicides in this city," said Drew.

For 2022 goals, the chief says he's focusing on the following:

  • Recruiting strategies for police and dispatchers. The chief says he had around 50 officer openings last month.
  • Continue to explore and implement new technology.
  • Focus on civilian leadership
  • Community engagement with a focus on youth
  • Virtual Cop — The chief wants to create a web link where a person can contact and talk with an officer for crimes that may not require an in-person response.
  • Reduce gun violence.

The chief says among strategies to reduce gun violence are additional ShotSpotter locations, community partnerships and resources, tip lines for youth and training for Newport News Public Schools on gang behavior.

Drew also showed a slide on "21st Century Policing," adding that the department could not forget the death of George Floyd and other officer-involved incidents that impacted police-community relations around the country. He also emphasized prioritizing the mental health of police officers.

Click here to view the entire presentation