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Portsmouth Police announce updated Crime Prevention Plan, showcase changes for community

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Posted at 10:48 AM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 18:43:42-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Portsmouth Police Department has announced that they will be reviewing and updating their crime prevention plan.

“We will consider new ideas and proven crime reduction methods. As we move forward, we want to highlight some of the actions already taken by the PPD and Portsmouth Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services, and other upcoming projects,” Portsmouth Police said in a press release.

According to a press release, the updated plan will feature a number of changes including increased directed, foot, and bike patrols in high-crime areas and downtown to protect citizens as well as create more community interaction.

Grassroots group, Stop the Violence 757 partners with the city by working with the kids and adults to make them feel safe in their neighborhood.

“We’re trying to bring the community together as a whole, and the way you do that, you start in the home,” said Freddie Taylor, Sr., the president of Stop the Violence 757. “Then, you can better the home, then you can bring a better balance to the community.”

Virginia State Police will also be joining local police on regular patrols throughout the city of Portsmouth. The Police department is also attempting to increase community engagement and awareness through training videos for reporting crimes, “What to Do” videos for City employees and the public, and using programs/events like Community Engagement Walks, Monthly Chief’s Corner Videos, Quarterly Chief’s Forums, and monthly Coffee with a Cop.

Stop the Violence 757 was holding a cookout outside for Brighton Elementary School’s field day event Friday. Typically, the students would be outside for the event, but the recent spike in crime – the latest a quadruple homicide at a boarding house a couple blocks away from the school – has forced the students inside.

The group helps take kids’ minds off the violent crime in their neighborhood, if just for a little bit, so they can be kids. They mentor children at their school to help them deal with issues they might be going through to prevent them from going down wrong road.

“We encourage them and let them know they can overcome,” said Freddie Taylor, Sr., the president of Stop the Violence 757. “They don’t have to be a product of what their seeing.”

The group’s efforts are part of the city’s crime prevention plan to help clean up the streets.

The hope is to help put criminals behind bars and solve homicides, including a case three weeks ago involving Taylor’s 30-year-old nephew Lavontae Jarvis.

“It just adds another scare to my heart and my soul,” Taylor said. “We have a heart for the community. We don’t want to see our young men and women dying at such early ages.”

Operation Red Ball, a task force made in-response to the increase in violence with a focus on violence suppression and gun seizures in statistically high activity areas, was mentioned in the press release. It was said that Portsmouth Police suspended all secondary functions within the organization and that all off-duty personnel were recalled with all overhead staff positions being reassigned to task force operations. The large-scale operation ended, but Red Ball Mini-surges continue at unspecified times in strategic areas.

"I’m real familiar with this stuff out here, and it’s not getting better,” said Ricky Hoggard Jr. the vice president with Stop the Violence 757. “We need more communication. We need therapy.”

Mental health services are also being implemented.

A new partnership with the fire department is expected to prevent drug overdoses and provide mental health services in a person’s home.

Portsmouth Police is also partnering with US Attorney General’s Office, ATF, FBI, DEA, and the US Marshalls Service to enact Operation Safe Neighborhoods.

“Operation Safe Neighborhoods is a holistic approach to crime reduction. It brings together community stakeholders, law enforcement, and some of our most vulnerable people. It has four principles: Community, Prevention & Intervention, Strategic Enforcement, and Accountability,” said Portsmouth Police.

The police department will also be implementing ‘Violence Interrupters’ who will intervene before a violent crime and after the occurrence of a violent crime to attempt to reduce the likelihood of retaliation. Trauma Counselors will also be included to help victims of violent crime and their families.

School Resource Officers have also been placed in Portsmouth Schools to create/become a point of contact for students. Portsmouth Police has also partnered with Portsmouth Public Schools to develop an Emergency Operations Plan for the safety of the students and faculty.

Personnel has been added to the Investigation Bureau to increase clearance rated. A request has also been put in that the Crime Stopper award be increased from $1000 to $5000 for murder cases. Access to gun ballistics tracing has been acquired and the city has begun to quire ShotSpotter as well, which would augment police resources and decrease response times to shots fired calls and save lives. A partnership with the FBI has also been cultivated to help identify repeat offenders that are worthy of Federal attention for prosecution and elevate their status so that they are subject to federal prosecution. The release made mention of the spike in catalytic converter thefts and noted that several arrests have been made.

A new gun violence intervention grant, Operation Ceasefire Portsmouth, that Portsmouth Police is trying to acquire. The goal is for it to further previous efforts from the Gun Violence Intervention Program Grant acquired in 2021. Authorities are currently working on a video project in collaboration with the City Marketing and Video Team and Stop the Violence 757.

“These videos highlight local parents who have lost their children to gun violence in Portsmouth. Three parents have already been interviewed. The videos will be part of a campaign to prevent gun violence and encourage citizens to help us solve homicides by sending in anonymous tips.”

All efforts outlined in the crime prevention plan will hopefully make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

Jarrod Allen, the parent & family liaison with Brighton Elementary School says the partnership with Stop the Violence 757 is working.

“It’s making a difference here in our school and in our area, because we’re teaching kids right from wrong,” Allen said.

A spokesperson for the police department said, over the next several months, officers will be reviewing the plan with its partners and talking about new ideas and making any changes depending on what’s working and what’s not.

Click here to read the full release for the updated crime prevention plan.