NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Newport News Police Department is cracking down on illegal firearms.
So far this year, officers have collected more than 700 illegal guns, already surpassing last year’s number.
It’s an accomplishment they’re proud of, but police say they continue to fight gun violence in the city, and they can’t do it alone.
NNPD removed 757 illegal firearms off the streets in Newport News to date in 2019.
“Somebody such as a convicted felon carrying a firearm, a firearm used in a violent crime, firearm used in a domestic abuse situation. There are a number of different things,” Assistant Chief Eric Randall said.
That’s a 33 percent increase from last year, when the department confiscated 659 illegal firearms.
Randall credits the emphasis on community policing.
“The community is calling and helping, aiding us in these investigations to get these firearms off the street,” he said. “When the community calls with these things, we have to be very responsive.”
Randall said the gunshot detection system, ShotSpotter, has also been a game changer.
“Officers actually get those notifications on their phones and their computers, so when gunshots go off in a particular community, officers are already responding,” Randall said. “That fast and aggressive response is part of what’s contributing to the successes we had in seizing these weapons.”
WAVY.com was told it’s having an impact on gun violence too.
There were 88 shooting victims in Newport News at this same time last year.
Currently that number stands at 72.
“There are 16 people, 16 less families affected by gun violence in the city right now because of the work [of] the men and women of this agency and the men and women of this community,” Randall said.
Once the judicial process is finished, the weapons are destroyed or returned to their rightful owner if they were stolen.
Anyone who knows of illegal firearms in their neighborhood can call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or submit a tip though the P3 tips app.