HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – The late police chief Pat Minetti was at the helm in 1994 when Bethel High School graduate Jimmie Wideman took an oath to protect and serve the people of Hampton.

Photo courtesy: HPD

Regina Mobley: How does it feel to be the top law enforcement officer in your hometown?

Chief Jimmie Wideman: It’s great. I’m still getting used to the title.

From patrolman to the FBI Academy, the detective division, and more, Wideman has witnessed a sharp escalation in violent crime in his hometown.

According to the police department, 63 people have been shot so far this year compared to 43 shootings in the same period of time last year.

The numbers, said Wideman, tell only part of the story.

Regina Mobley: It seems as though Hampton has turned into some of a drive-by location for crime.

Chief Jimmie Wideman: That’s a very good observation. It just so happens that geographically we are located in a center hub for others. No longer is the occasion where criminals stay in a specific neighborhood.

One week ago a Chesterfield, Virginia man was killed in Hampton while sitting in a car. In early June, two people were shot in different locations along Interstate 64 in Hampton.

Regina Mobley: Times have changed and law enforcement has changed. As a Black police chief, how do you think your presence at the top will make a difference in this community?

Chief Jimmie Wideman: Police departments are more of a reflection of the community; as our communities become more diverse, so should our police departments.

Wideman said Hampton cannot arrest its way out of problems. Instead the police department will help to educate the public while helping to restore communities.

One of his trusted partners is Whalen McDew, president of Doo Gooders of Hampton Roads and the Shell Road Association. McDew, in a statement, said the crime problem requires a comprehensive approach.

Photo courtesy Whalan McDew

“I believe that the escalating crime problems in Hampton are happening for many different reasons,” McDew said. “The main one being that people just don’t know how to resolve their issues any other way or they just don’t care. But we as a community have to get more involved in our communities especially when it comes to our young people. I work with young people all the time and have been doing so for many years. This generation of young people don’t believe that they can live if that makes sense. So we have to encourage them and show them that life is worth.

“There’s also an economic reason that a lot of crime is happening because people’s needs are not being met financially. This starts with people being paid a livable wage. We cannot continue to pay people less than what they’re worth.”

The Do Gooders are hosting a fundraiser next month to help fund the program’s Turkey Giveaway and Christmas Feeding events. For information contact info@dogoodershamptonroads.org or call or text 757-204-5884.