CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Mayors across Hampton Roads are keeping the spotlight on gun violence solutions. Friday is the third time several mayors came together to discuss the spike in violent crimes after meeting twice in 2021.
They recognized that gun violence in Hampton Roads is not slowing down in 2022. According to Gun Violence Archives, in March alone, there were at least 49 shootings across the region, where at least 17 people died.
“I think it is important for us to deal with this as a region as much as possible,” said Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck.
Mayor Tuck and Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer decided to bring all mayors together again.
“This is a national epidemic and we can’t fix it nationally, but we can do something proactively, locally,” said Mayor Dyer.
At the top of the list is communicating to intercept illegal guns, said Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander.
“We are seeing these guns just getting passed around from city to city,” Mayor Alexander said. “And these guns end up in the commission of a shooting of a crime and loss of life.”
Several mayors agreed that their community needs to be part of the solution.
“They are the ones that know their community better,” Mayor Dyer said.
Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover said his team created a crime reduction group, bringing together stakeholders across the community.
Mayor Alexander mentioned his city is working with a New Jersey-based group called the "Newark Street Team," a group of mentors and outreach workers.
“Working with partners, grassroots organizations in those communities, faith-based leaders,” Mayor Alexander said.
But leaders didn’t want to walk away without a plan of action.
Poquoson City Manager J. Randall Wheeler suggested cities send out frequent crime briefs to keep citizens in the loop of what's going on in their area.
Leaders also suggested getting into smaller workgroups soon to strategize plans for the future.
“Short term: enforcement,” Mayor Alexander said. “The more long term is strengthening the social safety net and prevention.”
City leaders across the 757 are also communicating often and sharing ideas.
A Newport News administrator mentioned that city officials from Portsmouth visited their office on Friday, to check out how their real-time crime center works.
This time around, Hampton Mayor Tuck said they invited the city managers and administrators from every city because they control the finances. They want their city leaders to be a part of the call to action.