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Police: Portsmouth major crime rates down in 2018

Portsmouth police statistics show that major crimes in 2018 dropped eight percent compared to 2017.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — It was something the Portsmouth Police Department was laser-focused on in 2018: reducing the overall major crime in the city.

"We hear your concerns and we are here to work together with the citizens of Portsmouth," said Lieutenant Bryant Hall.

At the Chief's forum on Wednesday night, officers and citizens listened as department leaders talked about the numbers.

In 2018, violent crimes incidents were up six percent. Lieutenant Hall said most of the increases were from aggravated assaults. But, Property crime went down 10 percent. 

Altogether, major crimes were down eight percent.

Lieutenant Hall said the reduction is thanks to help from city leaders, department leaders and, especially, citizens.

"The community engagement that we've been doing is kind of a culture change here where we are going out doing reset walks. We're doing community engagement walks and we're 'Coloring with a Cop', doing things that connect with the community," said Lieutenant Hall. "We're making trust deposits and it's paying off."

He said in half the homicides last year, the department was able to arrest someone, a major spike in the clearance rate from 2017.

"It all starts at the top so Chief Chapman has a standard she sets for each one of us and she expects nothing but excellence from us, and it goes all the way down," he said.

To maintain this trend, he said they plan to continue with the community engagement and other innovative investigative techniques.

In 2018, 52 new officers were hired, while 24 left the department. Overall, the department has 260 sworn positions. 

Right now, 248 of those positions are filled.