NORFOLK, Va. — Lots of locals and visitors stopped by Downtown Norfolk to spend a Friday night out, but after a recent string of shootings, city and community leaders are adamant about changes to improve safety.
Passing through the Granby Street corridor, locals and out-of-towners here for NATO Fest or Virginia International Tattoo took notice of new mobile surveillance cameras.
“It’s beautiful weather, so a lot of people are out right now," said visitor Melody Lee.
A lot of people, including Lee and her family, got to see the new street cameras in action.
A total of six are parked in the downtown area right now, according to Norfolk police. They can move them around as needed.
“Especially as a young woman of color, knowing that it’s safer and that there are cameras, it definitely helps a lot," Lee added.
Lee was one of many people visiting downtown to see military tattoo at the Scope.
Those who work along the main strip expect a busy weekend.
“Oh, hoping for it," said the culinary director of Granby Theater, who goes by The Mulletteer. He serves customers who come up to his storefront attached to the theater, between Wednesday to Saturday.
He said he is also pleased to see the increased police patrols continue on weekends.
“Add the cameras now, especially on a large weekend here with NATO or something like that, the business coming into town, we need something that – the reassurance. Let’s be realistic, Norfolk’s got a stain on it in the past couple of months," said The Mulletteer.
Within a span of five weeks, three separate shootings in the downtown area led to four people dead and five others hurt.
- March 19: Five people were shot outside Chicho's Pizza Backstage. Three of them died and two others were hurt. The shooting killed Virginian-Pilot reporter Sierra Jenkins, 25, and local semi-pro football player Devon Malik Harris, 25. Nearly a month after the shooting musician and Portsmouth father Marquel Andrews, 24, died from his injuries.
- April 2: Norfolk father Roosevelt McKinney, 33, was shot and killed inside MacArthur Center. Two others were injured.
- April 21: A 26-year-old man was shot near MacArthur Center Park, according to Norfolk police.
Preston Carraway, vice president of the Downtown Norfolk Civic League, said the group advocates for additional surveillance. They played an instrumental role in bringing the new safety measure to downtown.
"For finding who the perpetrators are, but it’s also a good deterrent as well," Carraway said.
Carraway recognized that the new measure can't change the past.
"But what we can do is we can look forward and try to do the right thing and be effective in creating a much safer environment downtown for people to come down and feel good with their families," he said.
He emphasized the mobile street cameras as temporary solutions to the string of violence in the area. He hopes to see the installation of more stationary and permanent surveillance cameras down the line.
City of Norfolk leaders are paying LiveView Technologies a monthly fee of $7,800 to rent all six mobile cameras ($1,300/each), according to a Norfolk Police Department spokesperson.