NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Early intervention and knowing the needs of your community are just some ideas leaders that the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News had as they discussed crime in Hampton Roads.
“Violence is a process, not an event,” said Bobby Kipper, the founder and executive director of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence.
Kipper said interrupting that process means understanding what’s going on in your neighborhood.
Monday morning, Congressman Bobby Scott brought together residents as well as city and community leaders for a conversation on reducing crime across Hampton Roads.
“The clear consensus is that we need to look at violence prevention as a long-term project,” Congressman Scott said.
Officials and community leaders at the roundtable identified some problems, including city agencies not sharing information to at-risk youth sooner.
“In some ways, their hands are tied when it comes to being able to share information and being able to get the right resources to those folks before they commit those crimes,” said Hampton Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray.
They also highlighted several programs that are helping to reduce crime, like the Newport News Sheriff’s Office’s re-entry program, which helps inmates get jobs and supports them as they reintegrate back into society.
“We have folks working on the Hampton Roads Bridge project," Newport News Sheriff Gabriel Morgan said.
"We’ve had deals signed with public works in the City of Newport News.”
Organizations are even developing new trauma-focused programs for children and teens.
“We’re working with multiple agencies and schools to start a program called ‘Amend.'" said Kristen Pine, the chief operating officer for YWCA of South Hampton Roads.
"It's an evidence-based program that targets young boys and young men and talks about conflict resolution.”
Troy Ketchmore with the organization Ketchmore Kids said it starts with community members being hands-on with young people.
“It starts with the people saying enough is enough," he said.
"Period. And you have those of us that are not scared to go out there, because you can’t save your people if you’re scared of them.”
Rep. Scott said he wants to make sure stakeholders are investing in these prevention efforts now.
“A gentleman mentioned that prevention programs sometimes take 15 years to see the benefits," Scott said.
"Well, we need to start those investments now. So 15 years from now, we can see the benefits.”