Editor’s note: Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone will not be at the town hall Wednesday night, a police department spokesman confirmed. The department announced Wednesday afternoon that Boone is set to retire this month.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On Monday, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander said we — the community and officials — need to do things differently to make Norfolk safer.  

Following a shooting at MacArthur Center over the weekend that left one dead and two injured, and back on March 19 on Granby Street when two people were killed and three injured outside Chichos Backstage, Alexander told us Monday in a one-on-one interview we need both short-term and long-term strategies to make our communities safer.  

Alexander called on cooperation with neighborhood organizations for town hall meetings — like the one that is taking place Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. in the Portsmouth City Council Chambers.

The forum is called “The Tale of Two Cities: The Gun Violence Epidemic in Norfolk and Portsmouth.”  

The organizer is Bishop Barry Randall.

“We should have the police officer sit down with some of these gang members and offer some concessions to say, ‘Hey what do you guys want? Can you guys give us this back in return?’” Randall said.

Randall planned to bring together the Norfolk and Portsmouth Police chiefs to be part of this town hall meeting. Only the Portsmouth police chief will attend.

Alexander told us about one of his long-term solutions to preventing crime.

“Through intervention and through targeted programs, we need civic groups, trusted partners, and training non-traditional leaders to be solutions,” Alexander said.

Perhaps Alexander had this Wednesday’s Tale of Two Cities Town Hall in mind when he told us that. 

Randall says that it is him.

“That is absolutely me, faith-based leader, we need the churches all-hands-on-deck, we need churches on board, city leaders on board, we need everyone to understand you cannot arrest your way out of crime,” he said. 

Alexander says non-traditional leaders like Randall need to be part of the solution, 

It is important because non-traditional leaders like Randall reach parts of the community that are often ignored and may not be involved in city government,  

“We need to sit down at the table and bring the street folk back in and meet with gangs and tell them women and children must be off-limits; that selling dope and having guns at schools must be off-limits,” he said. 

Both Norfolk and Portsmouth police chiefs were scheduled to attend the Town Hall meeting until Boone’s retirement announcement Wednesday afternoon.

“My hope is that actually the police chief in Portsmouth can learn from the police chief in Norfolk and vice versa, and to just piggy [back] off what the mayor of Norfolk said, how they are looking for long term solutions with non-traditional leaders,” Randall said. 

In the face of all the recent reports of crime, Randall tells us in order to get into a fruitful discussion about gangs, you need to talk to people in gangs, 

“I know it’s in our minds that we should go around all the cities and just arrest all the gang leaders, and gang members. We need to sit down with some of those gang leaders and say ‘Hey, there needs to be a street code that women and children are off-limits. There needs to be a street code that schools are off-limits,” he said.