CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Law enforcement, city leaders and faith leaders in Chesapeake held a public forum discussing solutions to violent crime in the community.

The event took place Wednesday evening at Chesapeake Christian Center.

Law enforcement stressed the uptick in violence not just in Hampton Roads, but all over the country. Last year, 19,600 people were murdered in the United States with 200 in Hampton Roads.

Law enforcement called the uptick an endemic that needs all hands on deck to stop.

“We have to find a way to come together for the betterment of this community,” said Capt. John Landfair of the Chesapeake Police Department.

Since Jan. 1, there have been six homicides in South Norfolk, five of which involved guns. Landfair oversees the 2nd precinct of South Norfolk. Right now, his precinct is focused on encouraging community policing, building positive relationships, getting criminals off the streets, recruiting violence interrupters and working to use a grant to install fixed license plate readers to catch criminals driving stolen vehicles.

The readers would be installed in areas with high numbers of stolen vehicles and shots fired.

Another shift the department has noticed is that gang members are being recruited younger with many starting in middle school. They explained how teens are manipulating stolen firearms to cause more damage and destruction and how those who legally own firearms need to properly secure and lock them away.

This year, Chesapeake’s 2nd precinct has taken 52 illegal guns off the streets.

Chesapeake Police Department’s gang unit regularly visits kids in marginalized neighborhoods to be a positive influence and show them that someone cares about them.

“I come at my job with love. That’s what these kids are looking for,” said Detective Mark Coull.

Matika Sawyer, who serves as vice president of the League of Advocates, focuses on communities with the highest rates of crime and helps adults and youth alike make better choices so they can create a foundation for success.

“We try to intervene as much as we can,” Sawyer explained.

If you’re interested in helping stop the violence, contact your local law enforcement, church or community organizations.