VIRGINIA BEACH, Va - Virginia Beach Police seized around 50 illegally possessed guns at the Oceanfront this month. Police say they have made several arrests.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate is speaking for the first time after numerous illegally possessed guns were seized at the Oceanfront.
Over the weekend, Neudigate tweeted that officers recovered several illegally possessed guns.
"We are trying to take the guns out of the hands of folks that shouldn’t have them or are not stable or mature enough to have those guns. I don’t have the numbers for just this month, but I know just focused on the Oceanfront, the resort this weekend, it was close to 20," Neudigate told News 3 reporter Leondra Head.
We asked him: How were the illegally possessed guns seized?
"A lot of them are coming from traffic stops. We hear about the concerns about traffic stops, but traffic stops are a huge staple of policing because criminals have to travel," Neudigate said.
Just earlier this month, police tweeted that 36 illegally possessed guns were seized at the Oceanfront.
"What I’d like to draw your attention to is these aren’t cheap guns anymore — these are expensive guns. They are all high-quality firearms, many of them with high-capacity magazines," Neudigate said.
Neudigate said police are getting ahead of the curve before a tragic event happens.
"We have not had a homicide at the Oceanfront in over a year," he said. "Our last shooting victim, the last time we had a person shot at the Oceanfront, was 311 days ago - that’s not by accident. It’s by a lot of great police work by the men and women in this police department engaging in proactive police work."
Virginia Beach is currently down 93 officers.
"Uniform patrol is the backbone of policing, and we have to be out there to respond timely to our citizens when they pick up the phone and call 911," he said. "All those back functions that support everything they do, we are struggling. It’s going to take some time."
Several police officers advocated for a step plan in a recent city budget meeting, where raises are tied to an officer's years with the department. Neudigate says he agrees with having a step plan.
"I think we have to look at a step plan to be competitive," he said. "If we want to be competitive and compete for the limited number of quality people that are out there, that’s something I hope council will at least consider."
Due to police shortages, the department has had to move school resource officers (SROs) to patrol functions.
"It’s not an easy decision to make - to tell schools I have to pull some SROs because I have to take additional officers from outlying precincts to staff the resort area. And then I need those SROs to backfill some of those zones because we still have to answer calls of service."
"How many SROs did you all pull from schools?" we asked Neudigate.
"Right now, it’s 10. There’s approximately 27 or 28 SROs at any given time so we have taken 10 and moved them into patrol functions," Neudigate said.
Although those school resource officers will not be at schools full-time, Neudigate assures parents that they will still be close by.
"We haven’t removed them from that precinct, so they are still running a zone near their school. So, if they are not answering a 911 call, we expect them to go visit that school and still be a presence there," Neudigate said.
You can watch Leondra's full one-on-one interview with Chief Neudigate below: