NORFOLK, Va. - People in Downtown Norfolk noticed more officers patrolling the area Thursday. Police were circling Granby Steet in cars and on foot.
Police Chief Larry Boone was walking alongside his fellow officers on Granby Street. He told News 3 reversing the surging trend in crime is possible, but it can’t fall on police alone.
“What we hope would be that everyone intervene - business owners, bartenders, the patrons, police, yourself,” said Boone. “It’s just not fair to put everything on police when we have absolutely no control over some of these things.”
The beefed-up patrols were hard to miss.
“I’m glad, definitely, that there are more police out and about walking around; it makes me feel a lot safer,” said Joseph Victorio, who lives downtown.
Sophia Gebert is a server at Granby Street Pizza and says seeing more officers around is comforting.
“Nighttime brings a different crowd,” Gebert said. “Personally, I don’t feel safe walking from work alone on the streets.”
Starting Thursday, the Norfolk Police Department said there will be increased patrols in the downtown area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until further notice.
Here on Granby Street downtown, @NorfolkPD are stepping up patrols after 5 people were shot, 2 died, early Saturday morning outside Chicho’s. https://t.co/PGLumyf9oC @WTKR3 pic.twitter.com/Ge98fX5bSi— Antoinette DelBel (@AnnieDelBel) March 24, 2022
In a city council meeting Tuesday night, city leaders called for more security measures downtown, a task that will be challenging after Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boonesays the force is down more than 200 officers.
The police department is pulling officers from other units to bolster its numbers downtown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The increased patrols come after the deadly shooting on Granby Street in the early morning hours of March 19. Virginian-Pilot reporter Sierra Jenkins and semi-pro football player Devon "Malik" Harris, both 25, were killed in the shooting, which left three other people injured.
Police said an argument over a spilled drink led to the deadly shooting outside Chicho’s in the early morning hours Saturday. Jenkins and Harris were killed in the crossfire.
Zahir Stewart was there that horrific day.
“All of a sudden, as we about to walk away, somebody come and pow, pow. I’m like, 'Oh, ***.' We all got down, scattered,” Stewart said.
He doesn’t think more police to crack down on crime is the answer.
“It’s too much police here,” said Stewart. “Same time, there’s too much authority that they trying to push on people to make them have weapons.”
The surge in gun violence prompted Joseph Victorio to buy a handgun for protection. He, like many others, believe the increased patrols will help clean up the streets.
“I do think that it’s a nice trend,” said Victorio. “I do think it’ll discourage and make people think twice.”
About a dozen officers will be patrolling the streets downtown until 3 a.m. three nights a week.
Chief Boone believes stepping up patrols will help to curb crime.
“Generally, when you have a police presence, folks behave themselves,” said Boone. “We’re trying to have a light footprint so that we don’t look like we’re occupying Granby Street. We’re trying to find that balance.”
The chief said when it gets warmer outside, and more people are out, they will have to modify their technique.