Newport News sees overall decrease in crime; chief says combating increase in aggravated assaults is a priority

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Crime is down in Newport News and it’s almost across the board — from the number of homicides, to assaults, to shootings and more. 

The chief released the last year’s statistics Tuesday morning and he said he couldn’t be more pleased.   

“I am happy with the direction that we are going,” Chief Steve Drew said.

Newport News Officers were at fewer scenes in 2019. 

“We were down in every category last year and our murders, our rapes and our robberies,” Drew added.

Overall, crime in the city is down 9 percent, which includes both violent crimes and property crimes. It has been steadily dropping since 2016. The only issue is aggravated assaults.

“[There were] 96 more incidents of aggravated assault in 2019 than 2018,” Drew said. “I will tell you now 80, of those are domestic violence.”

Recently, a young mother was nearly shot to death in domestic situation. Drew says combating domestic violence is a priority, including hiring staff to work with the community.

Homicides went from 24 in 2018 to 23 in 2019, and have continued to drop over the past four years.

Shootings are down from 92 to 79 in the same time frame.

Those decreases happened while police emphasized — and increased — taking illegal guns off the streets. In total, 659 guns were seized in 2018 compared to 886 in 2019. 

Drew believes this is due to more interaction with residents — he believes they are getting more hope from the community to solve crimes.

“What I believe is that citizens are taking their neighborhoods back,” Drew said. “Citizens are getting more involved.”

Officers will continue to focus on crime hot spots and creating relationships with the community.

“I give the men and woman of this agency all the credit in the world,” Drew added. “The citizens get all the credit. You are the ones who are driving crime down [within] the city.”

Drew said the department is in the middle of the largest police academy group in the city’s history: 34 new officers are about to hit the streets. 

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