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Norfolk partnership with anti-crime group ‘extremely productive’

Norfolk city council members just got an update on what the Newark Community Street Team has been up to over the past year.

NORFOLK, Va. — As Norfolk police investigate who shot two teenagers in the last week, city leaders are continuing work with an outside team to fight crime.

Norfolk City Council members are hoping to stop the violence through a partnership with the Newark Community Street Team.

On Saturday night, as Norfolk’s Grand Illumination parade got underway, someone shot a 17-year-old boy and a 15-year-old-girl in the Young Terrace neighborhood. That’s less than two miles from the parade.

Norfolk investigators say it happened around 9 p.m. on Whitaker Lane.

"I heard the shooting and then I seen the police out here. Matter of fact, I stay right on the street close by where it happened. The police were all up in here," resident Haywood Odom said. "I heard something like 8 or 9 shots, for real - kept going 'pow, pow!' I thought it was firecrackers but I said, 'That’s too much. That sounds more like the real thing - like a gun, like shooting.'"

Detectives say the two teens went to the hospital and are both expected to be ok.

RELATED: 2 teenagers shot in Young Terrace neighborhood, Norfolk police say

This is about a year after Norfolk City Council members announced a partnership with a New Jersey-based outreach program to address the rising violence.

On Tuesday, Newark Community Street Team's board chair, Aqeela Sherrills updated Norfolk city council members on what the group has done so far, and where they’re heading next.

“It takes about three years for this type of work to really take root. There’s no instant gratification, there’s no magic," Sherrills said. "It’s hard work."

Sherrills said his team analyzed crime hotspots and identified four violence intervention programs in the city of Norfolk.

The Street Team is giving them training on how they can better tailor their work to the community and how they can secure funding.

Those groups include Guns Down, Kind, Teens With a Purpose, and the Rec League.

The Street Team is also crafting a project called “Safe Passage” which deploys mediators around schools in high-risk communities to ensure children get to school and back home, safely.

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He said this is only the first step.

“This work is a slow build. The ecosystem of safety that we’re going to support you in building out, starts with these individuals,” Sherrills said. “Today we start with high-risk intervention and safe passage. And then we add victim services.”

A Young Terrace resident who asked to stay anonymous said the city needs to do more to fight crime.

“I’m to the point - yes it’s scary, yes I have my fears because there’s too much of that happening out here. It seems like nothing is being done about it,” she said. “This last Saturday, there were more kids out than usual because of the festival. But kids don’t play out here anymore because they’re scared and we’re scared for them. All this shooting, and nothing’s done.”

Norfolk city manager Chip Filer said Tuesday that although there is a lot more to do, he’s pleased with the work the Street Team is doing so far.

“Our partnership so far has been nothing short of extremely productive,” Filer said.

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