HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads mayors are fighting back against violence in their communities.
On Monday, the mayors of six major Hampton Roads cities met virtually to discuss public safety issues. The forum comes after a recent rash of violence across the area.
Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck led the discussion with Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, Chesapeake Mayor Rick west, Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer and Newport News Mayor McKinley Price. Suffolk Mayor Mike Duman was not able to attend Monday’s forum.
The mayors are working with a nonprofit called Cities United to revamp their approach toward public safety with the goal of making Hampton Roads a safe, healthy and hopeful region for everyone.
The nonprofit’s mission is to reduce homicides and shootings by half, particularly among young Black men and boys.
Together, they’re developing a comprehensive plan to combat community violence.
This includes addressing the violence as a public health crisis, partnering with schools to boost student outcomes, setting aside funding for these efforts, and creating jobs and expanding transportation across the region.
“We cannot have economic growth where violence prevails. People, businesses are not going to go to communities where it’s not safe. People are not going to settle in places that it’s not safe and yet we cannot eradicate violence without economic opportunities,” said Chesapeake Mayor Rick West.
Cities are partnering with local employers to provide opportunities. Newport News Mayor McKinley Price said the city has partnered with the shipyard to train candidates and offer a guaranteed starting salary.
Cities United says the public safety plan is a long-term one that can lay a solid foundation for the future.
“If we get this right, I know we can save tons of lives but also create space for a lot of young people and a lot of families to live out their dream that they never probably thought they could,” said Anthony Smith, with Cities United.