NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A new center at Christopher Newport University is looking to use its resources to help address crime, gun violence, and other issues that plague the Hampton Roads Region.
In September, the school launched the Center for Crime, Equity, and Justice Research and Policy. The center’s Director Dr. Steven Keener says it came from a culmination of helping nonprofits and other organizations in the community with similar issues.
“We kept hearing the same thing going out and doing this work,” Keener said. “We didn’t know you did that. We didn’t know you did this work. Part of the idea behind the center is to bring visibility to show this work and help our community partners, evaluate their programming and help with grants.”
Currently, the center is helping the City of Newport News with a city assessment on guns. Keener says the city reached out to them and they made a 36 question survey to ask residents about the barriers to community resources, opinions on policing, and other safety issues.
“Cities around the state are doing these community assessments. Part of it is response to gun violence. The idea behind the community assessment is to get a lay of the land around your city,” he said.
Keener says the center has gotten a lot of attention lately for the resources it can provide. The City of Norfolk has also reached out for an assessment.
The Newport News survey is currently available and Keener says it takes about 15 minutes to complete.
Once it’s finished, the center will analyze it and create a report.
Keener says this information can be used by policymakers to help them know where to allocate resources and response.
“We hope we can help them make better-informed decisions going forward,” he said.
Keener says the center was also created to help give students internship and career opportunities as well as provide dialogue on campus about issues relating to crime, equity and justice.
Next week, the center is hosting its first Hampton Roads Social Justice Conference which will bring individuals and organizations together to talk about topics such as crime, housing justice, environmental justice, and more.
It is being held on April 11 and 12.