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Portsmouth updates crime plan amid violent start to 2022

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Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 17:32:07-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The city is updating its crime plan amid a violent start to 2022.

On Tuesday, city staff presented an updated plan to the city council.

"We’re in an emergency situation. We’ve got people getting killed. We’ve got cars getting high jacked. We’ve got businesses getting robbed," said City Councilman Bill Moody.

The city upped police efforts last week due to several shootings happening within hours of each other.

Police Chief Renado Prince told the council those efforts led to 8 arrests and officers seizing 7 guns, but he says those efforts are not sustainable.

"When I said I pulled everything, I pulled everything. They have to rest. They have families. They have a life, so they're going to have to rest at some point or they're going to make mistakes," said Prince.

The city says the next steps to address crime are to add more technology, like ShotSpotter, continue to engage community members, and expand mental health outreach.

The city says they've added streetlights to area that are dark and used surveillance video to help solve crimes.

They've also partnered with community groups like Big HOMIES to try and address crime. The organization tries to direct young people away from gangs and crime.

"For me , I come into contact with them a lot. I can be the bridge from that kid and the person that has the opportunity for them," said Eugene Swinson, the group's president.

Swinson thinks the crime plan is working, but says things aren't going to change overnight. "It may not be going as fast as people wait it to go, but I do think it's going," he said.

Swinson gave an example of a recent success. He took four people involved with gangs to meet with city administration, including the city manager. The four left on a path to get other opportunities, like jobs.

"I know a lot of people say lock them up. You're going to have to lock some of them up because some of them aren't going to stop, but you've got kids like that, who from the outside looking in, you'd think they don't care either, but get them in front of the right people and they're a kid again," he said.