NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk city leaders have a new project in the works to fight crime.
Interim police chief Michael Goldsmith said his department is “investing heavily” with a company called Safe Night. He explained business owners and police officers will collaborate to prevent violence.
“Trying to educate businesses on how to be successful in an entertainment district," Goldsmith said. “We are investing heavily into this program to get our business owners educated, our police officers educated in providing consistent presence downtown that is based on relationship, rather than just enforcement.”
Preston Carraway of the Downtown Norfolk Civic League said city leaders briefed his group on this new project a few weeks ago. He said the company has a proven track record and reduced crime in other cities, like Arlington.
“It has a track record and we’re not inventing something from scratch. So we’re not doing experiments. We’re bringing something in that’s been proven effective," he said. “I’m very hopeful and actually a little bit confident that it could be effective here in Norfolk, as well.”
The interim police chief said he wants a police presence downtown Norfolk that’s based on relationships and not just enforcement.
Over the weekend, Goldsmith explained Safe Night consultants will educate business owners and police officers on different things they can do to prevent violence. He said it’s about putting rules in place to make downtown safer, including possible ID scanners at late-night restaurants and de-escalation training for security.
“To make sure that we’re not engendering fight inside the establishment," Goldsmith said. "Which is what generally happens, somebody gets into a fight, they go back to their car and they get a firearm and then the shootings start.”
Carraway said he has a lot of confidence in the project.
“What really impressed me about the program: it’s not a law enforcement solution, a restaurant solution, or a resident solution. It’s a partnership solution," Carraway said. “Training the establishments downtown to work together to come up with solutions that make this place a lot safer for our late-night entertainment and the people who come down to enjoy Norfolk.”
Norfolk resident Molly Power said the growing crime is a concern.
“I tend to head home a little earlier than maybe I would, otherwise," she said. “I think ultimately it’s more the social systems. It’s hard to blame individual people for the situations that they’re in. So I’d like to see them, invest in things that help peoples’ lives for the better.”