NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A Newport News neighborhood had a strong police presence Friday, but the officers weren’t responding to an emergency call.
Newport News Police officers walked the streets of the Newport Commons apartment complex in an effort to boost community engagement and interaction.
“I seen a bunch of cops out here so I figured it was something bad, but they were out here for a good cause. It shocked me; I didn’t think that they did that,” said Lamont Davenport, a Newport Commons resident.
Davenport has lived in the Newport Commons for two years and says this is his first time seeing a heavy police presence in the neighborhood for something not related to crime.
"When I turned the corner and I seen cops, I was like, 'Let me check to make sure my seatbelt is on straight.' Then I seen them walking, and they waved when I walked past," Davenport said.
This is the first time this year Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew is doing a Walk & Talk event to connect with the community and provide a sense of trust.
“I do not want to just interact with citizens when there’s something negative that’s happened in their community or they’re experiencing some type of trauma,” Chief Drew said.
A group of officers strolled through the apartment complex and talked to residents while connecting with the community.
“Really it’s just for me to get out and interact with citizens and the community; to wave and see the people and just have a conversation,” Chief Drew said.
Chief Drew says that he’ll be doing these Walk & Talks in different neighborhoods in Newport News every Friday.
“My hope is that people look through their window blinds and maybe saw us and next time maybe they’ll come out and talk to us.”
Residents who live in Newport Commons say they are glad to see police in the neighborhood for a good cause.
“This is the first time that I’ve ever seen law enforcement reaching out to the community, and I think it’s a really good thing,” said resident Wayne Johnson.
“More cities should follow suit and do that just to walk through the neighborhood and show that cops aren’t all bad. Also to show their faces and everyone can know them in the neighborhood,” Davenport said.