PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Residents in Portsmouth will start to notice more officers on the streets starting Monday. Virginia State Police (VSP) are helping the Portsmouth Police Department with daily patrols to help prevent crime across the city.
“We need help as you can see,” said Pastor Barry Randall of All People Cultural Life Church.
Randall hopes assistance from VSP will be the driving force to prevent violent crime across the city. He said this help is long overdue.
“The criminal element in the city is not fearful of Portsmouth police and we need to change that narrative,” he said.
A spokeswoman with Virginia State Police says the department will provide additional patrol and investigative resources to the Portsmouth Police Department. Community leaders said they are happy to see this partnership come together.
“We need capable, competent officers that will come into our city and answer the question why not what,” said Pastor Eugene Johnson of Victory Temple Church.
Though Johnson and Randall said an increase in police presence isn’t going to be the only factor in curbing crime.
Randall says the city needs to come together. He said that means City Council leaders must put their drama to the side.
“The criminals watch the television like we all do," he said. "They read the newspaper, they have social media. Therefore, when they see the fighting, and we don’t have a cohesiveness working component. Then guess what, they know that the city can run amuck.”
Johnson said if not, city leaders will see major consequences.
“If we do not begin to get a hold on what’s pressing, we may begin to lose a generation to violence and that is unacceptable,” he said.
In light of the spike in violence, Portsmouth police also increased its patrols in high-crime areas and downtown.
The department also conducted Operation Red Ball, which was a combined task force with several federal agencies. The task force focused on violence suppression and gun seizures in statistically high activity areas. Although this large-scale operation ended, Red Ball Mini-surges continue at unspecified times in strategic areas.
Department leaders are also looking to acquire a gun violence intervention grant to help with prevention efforts.
Randall said he even reached out to Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares in hopes his office can provide additional resources to Portsmouth.