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'Tired of seeing young people die' | Portsmouth city leaders talk changes to lower crime

Portsmouth's top leaders came together for a "Stand Against Crime" event to show the community how they plan to lower gun violence with a new grant.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The city of Portsmouth is no stranger to crime, particularly gun violence among the younger community. 

But on Tuesday, Mayor Shannon Glover and City Manager Angel Jones presented plans to prevent further violence, using a grant the city received through the Department of Criminal Justice.

Mayor Glover said the city applied for the grant earlier this year and was given $495,000. He said this big grant will go toward grassroots programs and initiatives to create better outlets for the community.

Portsmouth's Police Chief Renado Prince stood in front of a room filled with law enforcement, politicians, local community activists, and others at City Hall. 

He started off by saying, "I've been here for a few years. I've been to so many homicides I can't even remember...I don't want to remember some."

Chief Prince's words held significance with each pause as he continued to say, "I am tired, Portsmouth. I am tired of seeing young dead people...that die for needless reasons. I'm tired of seeing mothers grieving...because someone brought a gun to what should have been a discussion." 

Chief Prince said arresting people is not solving the problems. He said more needs to be done by the mayor and city manager.

"We have heard the citizens of Portsmouth speak," said Mayor Shannon Glover as he kicked off the press conference. He said the money from the grant will help them create more solutions for Portsmouth neighborhoods, including an ambassador program.

"The purpose of that is really to build trust within our community, so people can feel comfortable coming forward because part of what's happening is people are not coming forward because they do not feel comfortable," said Glover.

Chief Prince said his department is short-staffed about 60 officers. The department is receiving help from the Portsmouth Sheriff's Office to keep up with crimes in the area. 

Mayor Glover said the Sheriff's deputies will also act as community activists, getting in touch with the younger residents.

"When you can provide that support that the Sheriff provides, it does make a difference," said Glover. "It does give us more opportunity to have more feet on the ground and interaction with the community."

While Chief Prince said a big problem lies within the younger people, he hopes they could also be a solution by making different choices.

"You have got to want to change, you have got to want to do something different, other than living the street life," said Chief Prince.

Portsmouth City Manager, Angel Jones, said the city is also teaming up with Dominion Energy to provide better lighting in various neighborhoods.

Jones said better lighting is expected to deter more crimes from happening.

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