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Police: In 2021, Portsmouth had its highest homicide rate in years

Police Chief Renado Prince said the rise follows a nationwide trend. He talked about his plan to address it.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince held a virtual community forum Wednesday night to discuss homicide rates and property crime.

Joined by his district commanders, Chief Prince told the community that there were 35 homicides in the city last year and two so far this year.

"That's not acceptable," he said. 

Department records showed a total of 34 in 2020 and 16 in 2019. 

Prince pledged that his agency will refocus efforts on guns this year, saying they've partnered with federal agencies like the FBI and ATF.

"People have them on the streets illegally and we want them off the street to keep our streets safe," said Prince.

He expressed interest in ShotSpotter but described that it's up to the city council whether to fund the technology. He said it would be a big help, explaining that only 20% of shots fired are reported to the police.

January 2022 Quarterly Chiefs Forum

Posted by Portsmouth Police Department on Wednesday, January 26, 2022

However, Prince also pointed out that everyone plays a major role by reporting and getting involved, especially with today's youth.

"This is an 'us' thing. It's not just the police department. This is a community effort," he said.

The force is responding to another alarming trend: property crimes.

Captain Althea Floriano is in charge of District 2, which she described as the largest commercial district, north of the interstate and east of the bridges.

She said they've already seen a spike in stolen cars this year. Some were left unlocked or running and some had guns left out in the open.

"It's only January 26 and we've had three guns stolen out of unlocked motor vehicles," said Floriano. 

And like many employers, the Portsmouth Police Department is looking to fill up its workforce. He noted that the city manager took an "unprecedented move," raising the salary of baseline officers to $50,000 a year.

Rookie officers will get $46,000. Upon completion, Prince said that moves up to $50,000 a year. 

A spokesperson told 13News Now that the department is short about 80 officers, but they just swore in 10 officers and two new assistant chiefs. They also welcomed eight recruits.

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