Newport News special task force formed following rise in violent crimes

13News Now Niko Clemmons has the story

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) – It's a growing problem throughout the city-- violent crimes.

Officials with the Newport News Police Department are creating a special task force to address the increasing gun violence.

They've highlighted specific neighborhoods where gun violence happens the most.

Since the first of the year, there have been 87 shooting incidents and 16 homicide incidents combined among the South, Central and North precincts.

Police say these numbers are an increase from last year.

“We've heard the complaints from the citizens,” Assistant chief for the Newport News police department Stacy Kelly says. “Violent crimes gets people’s attention.”

The Newport News police department has identified five neighborhoods in the city where the crime has significantly increased since the beginning of the year, Aqueduct, Courthouse Green, Dresden Drive, the Marshall Courts area and Chestnut Avenue.

Officers plan to increase their presence in these specific neighborhoods, hoping to gain more information from residents about these areas.

“It's their neighborhood, they live there,” Assistant Chief Kelly says. “We need help to clean up the neighborhood. We can't come in as police and fix all the problems. We're looking for partnerships.”

Gayla Thomas is one of several Aqueduct residents wondering what are police going to do about the growing number of shootings and homicides in Newport News.

“Every time I hear someone is getting shot, I call my grandkids, my sons, make sure everyone is alright, because it's scary,” Thomas says.

Over the next week, police are visiting these neighborhoods, holding forums, letting residents know what's going on.

They are bringing in extra resources to focus on this issue.

“They're looking to address violent crimes, not to produce numbers,” Assistant Chief Kelly says.

The Violent Crime Reduction Task Force goes out into these neighborhoods starting November 1st and they'll be out in the neighborhoods through the end of the year.

Here are two upcoming public forums in Newport News:

October 26 - 5 p.m.
869 36th Street

November 1 - 7 p.m.
New Beech Grove Baptist Church
326 Tabbs Lane

To find out about the remaining community forums, visit the NNPD webpage here: https://www.nngov.com/police


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