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Norfolk police starts new strategy to combat crime, department staffing shortage

The new strategy includes adding more patrol officers to communities across the city and referring non-emergencies to the Telephone Response Unit.

NORFOLK, Va. — A new policing structure starts today in hopes of bringing a much calmer summer to Norfolk.

“We’re going to be pulling officers from our administrative services bureau, we’re going to be taking officers from special units,". said Norfolk Police Sgt. William Pickering. 

"Our goal is to ensure that every patrol car district is full.”

The Norfolk Police Department has redesigned a strategy to better serve the community this summer. It includes adding more police officers to the streets to reduce crime.

“We want to build those relationships with our community members and build that legitimacy and trust to be available for them,” Pickering said. 

The department is also shifting resources, and leaders are cutting down in-person officer responses to some non-emergency calls. That includes hit and runs, stolen cars and burglaries.

Pickering said that since the department is short on 261 sworn officers, he  technology is being used to fill the gap.

“I know residents have heard about our shortages and are concerned about our ability to respond to emergencies,” said Interim Police Chief Michael Goldsmith. 

“I want them to know that we have come up with a plan to have our precincts fully staffed and available for your call.”

Leaders said the police department receives over 17,000 calls for service monthly and needed a method to handle the large volume of calls. 

Non-emergency calls will get referred to the department’s NPD Live program and the Telephone Response Unit.

“The Telephone Response Unit is a unit within our central records division. We have several sworn officers that are going to be available to take those non-emergency calls," he said.

Pickering said this will keep more police officers on the streets to respond to emergencies. He said the department will use this strategy even past the summer season.

“It’s going to help reduce crime," he explained. "It’s going to build that relationship and make people feel better about their neighborhood.”

Residents can also file a non-emergency report through the Online Citizens Reporting System, the MyNorfolk app and the online portal.

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