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Portsmouth Police Chief responds to crowd doing burnouts in middle of busy street on New Year's Eve

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Posted at 1:31 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 17:49:46-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Police Chief Renado Prince calls a large group gathering in the middle of High Street doing burnouts on New Year's Eve "unacceptable."

"It is a major concern for the city and myself for someone to stop up a major thoroughfare like this," he said. "It's a danger to the public, it's a danger to everyone else."

News 3 was reporting on the incident Wednesday when Prince happened to drive by. He came and talked with a reporter about what happened.

Video of the incident has gone viral on social media.

Prince says a group from outside the city organized the event. Police were called shortly before midnight and responded within minutes.

"It's not acceptable. It's not something we want here. This is actually a danger to our public. There could've been anybody out here, and any time, they could've gotten killed," he said.

Police released a video of them dispersing the crowd.

Community activist Barry Randall saw clips of the incident being shared online and called on the city leadership to do more to address the perception of chaos in the city.

"Just like my shirt says we need to have a city full of love, not hate, not disorder, not chaos. That's what Portsmouth is representing right now - a city of chaos, a city of hate, a city of doom. We have to do better," Randall said.

Randall and Prince talked about the incident together and the path forward for the city. "We don't want that to become the new norm that people are just doing what they want to do because we have law and order for a reason. You can't block major streets," said Randall.

Prince took over as Chief last September and is hoping to turn things around in the city with an understaffed department. The city has more than 80 vacancies for police officers.

He says it's going to take community members, like Randall, stepping up to say enough is enough.

"We're making small steps. I don't want anyone to think that everything is going to change overnight. It's not, but as long as we keep pushing back together we're going to make a change," Prince said.