HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — In 1971, Charles Cheek was assigned to the Crimes Against Persons squad in the Hampton Police Department. He spent more than nine years solving murders, rapes, and other violent crimes.

Cheek, now retired, is part of the Christian Community Development Network in Hampton. After years of rounding up suspects, Cheek has rounded up partners to take down, not just the crime in our region, but the underlying causes of crime.

Tuesday morning at the Messiah Center church, Cheek assembled a new squad for the first of several planning meetings.

“We’ve got to go back to discrimination the salient issues with redlining and all of those things started compounding themselves over the years,” said Cheek.

“The best way to control something is to get rid of the framework.”

Cheek says rebuilding the village and building trust starts with the new partners. Workgroups led by activists, academics, health professionals, and law enforcement on all levels are cementing a plan to reach out to a disenfranchised community. Brian Dugan, The Special Agent in Charge of the Norfolk FBI office is part of the workgroup.

“You have to be transparent; you have to be honest about what we are doing, how we are doing it, and how we get to where the community gets resolution,” said Dugan

 According to the FBI, murders increased by 25% in 2020 and there’s a mass shooting just about every day in America. This former detective says his new squad will urgently act to save lives.

“We’ve got to change the mindset; it’s not about A.B.C.D’s; it’s about a strategy of engaging people and building relationships and the relationships don’t stop at five o’clock; they have to go 24-7,” said Cheek. The Lookout Mountian Georgia-based Chalmers Center is the model for his program.

Part of his 24-7 approach includes the four-year-old Jobs for Life and Work-Life programs in partnership with the city of Hampton. Under the programs, underserved women take job readiness classes while mentors address issues such as “brokenness” and trauma.

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