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Norfolk police chief calls on community to help end youth gun violence

"You can help change the direction of a juvenile’s life by being Available, Valuable, and Visible to them," said Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone.

NORFOLK, Va. — Two teens have been killed in shootings and two teens were arrested for their deaths in Norfolk in less than a month.

On May 21, 13-year-old JayDon Davis died nine days after being shot. Two days after he died from his injuries, Trenton Conwell, 18, was arrested for Davis's death.

On June 2, a 15-year-old was shot and killed and Tayvon K. Black, 18, was arrested and charged with the teen's murder on Monday.

Now Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone is calling on the community to help end youth gun violence.

One point he made clear was that it's not just the youth on youth violence that needs to change, but the violence near schools as well.

On Monday a man was hurt in a shooting near Jaycox Elementary School causing the school to go into a precautionary lockdown.

In a statement, Chief Boone said: 

Over the past few weeks, our communities in Norfolk have experienced a series of tragic events involving our most vulnerable and impressionable citizens. Headlines such as “Teen Dies from Shooting” and “Shooting near Elementary School” have no less captured the reality that our youth are resulting to violence against one another to settle neighborhood “beefs” or simply being disrespected. As petty as this sounds, I have found that this is a motivating factor in whether someone lives or dies. Now, our youth aren’t dying from fist fights, they’re dying from gunfights.

In 2017, I examined over 700 firearms recovered as a result of criminal investigations in the City of Norfolk. One common denominator when researching the gun was that it was legally purchased before getting into the hands of the shooter. In most cases, the person who purchased the firearm and the person who used it in a crime had no ties to one another. So how are these guns getting into the hands of our youth? Simply put, irresponsible gun owners. As you know, our youth cannot legally purchase a handgun so they’re getting them from homes, unlocked vehicles and other illegal means. Properly securing your firearm reduces the chances a juvenile will use a gun to make a split-second decision that changes everyone’s life. Gun violence is not all about politics, and I will not invest energy in speculation about future gun legislation. What is more compelling, is what WE as a community can do in the present to affect gun violence.

As a community, we need to rally around our youth and provide them with opportunities to prosper. You can help change the direction of a juvenile’s life by being Available, Valuable, and Visible to them. Odds are you don’t have to look far to find someone in need of guidance.  I urge communities that have witnessed the unmitigated killings of youth on their streets to have brave and courageous conversations with each other about gun violence, gun safety, illegal gun purchase and the loss of young African-American males, who are identified repeatedly as suspects and victims. Let’s look within our own communities to assist our male youth with guidance, employment, and the self-confidence that doesn’t roll through the barrel of a gun, but through your time and intentional commitment to change a life-threatening dynamic. Job applications in the hands of our youth for Summer employment, instead of guns, is a goal we should all work toward.

The City of Norfolk encourages our “community members” to find ways to positively impact our youth through outreach, engagement, and employment activities. To that end, I encourage ways we can partner in our efforts to reduce gun violence.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share my sadness in the wake of another juvenile’s tragic death. As a police department, we will continue with the efforts that have shown to produce a reduction in crime. Having said that, even one act of violence is one too many.

Nevertheless, my responsibility as Chief of Police is to use the women and men of the Norfolk Police Department to make your community safer by holding those accountable for the crimes they commit. Therefore, I will continue to target known offenders in those areas throughout the city that have been impacted by violent crime. My methods will be deployed strategically as to not impact the lives of our law-abiding citizens, but it will leave an indelible mark on those who use violence against our citizens.