NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – From the community formerly known as Roberts Park, Captain J.T. White reflected on the village in his public housing neighborhood that nurtured and protected him.

“It was very peaceful with a lot of camaraderie,” said White, whose family later moved to the Ingleside section of Norfolk.

White, with a smile on his face, offered praise for his teachers at Ingleside Elementary School. The school is just a few yards away from the Police Operations Center in the 3000 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard.

“One in particular, I can remember is Ms. Bly. She was a math teacher and her son, Drey Bly, actually played in the NFL,” said White, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School.

After eight years in the United States Air Force, White returned to his hometown and joined the Norfolk Police Department. His first assignment was the Huntersville community, where his first arrest, following a foot pursuit, was a little unusual.

“Once I catch him, we are tussling on the ground a little bit. Once he realizes it’s me, he looks while smiling and says, [White] what are you doing in a police uniform?” said White as he stood in the courtyard of the apartment complex where he spent his teen years.

More than 20 years later, the man in uniform is opening hearts and minds.

10 On Your Side accompanied White on a visit to the intersection of O’Keefe Street and Freemont Avenue in the heart of Huntersville. On display on a vacant lot, a sign reads “Stop the Violence, Get Involved, The life you save may be your own, Guns down.”

Regina Mobley: You see [in Huntersville], quite often, makeshift memorials that mark the spot where someone was murdered.

Capt. T.J. White: Yes, yes, they are throughout the city far too often.

And, all too often serious criminal cases collapse in court.

“The problem is when it comes time for court, that same individual [a witness] has to live in the community they are about to testify against someone,” White said.

Police Chief Mark Talbot, who previously served as chief in Hampton, selected White in August as Executive Officer of the Office of Public Relations, Information Marketing and Engagement, or PRIME. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice and leads four sworn officers and three professional staff members. Together they are trying to build partnerships with community leaders. Standing near a make-shift memorial, White explained what’s at stake.

“The police department can’t do it alone,” White said. “Crime is everyone’s problem.”

To learn more about this all-hands effort, tune in to NPD outreach every Tuesday morning on the call-in talk show NPD & YOU on PEACE 95.3 FM from 8:30-9:15 a.m. or at