NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Norfolk Police Department (NPD) is implementing changes that will impact how it responds to calls. The restructuring plan begins Wednesday, July 6.
NPD announced on Tuesday that the changes are in response to the serious shortage of officers, which 10 On Your Side has previously reported. Currently, the deficit is around 250 officers in the Mermaid City.
“I know residents have heard about our shortages and are concerned about our ability to respond to emergencies,” said Interim Police Chief Michael Goldsmith. “I want them to know that we have come up with a plan to have our precincts fully staffed and available for your call.”
In addition to a new patrolling plan, the city has redesigned how it will respond to incidents.
According to Chief Goldsmith, the changes will result in more officers on the streets, but it also means the response to some non-emergency calls will be reduced.
Norfolk Police receive about 17,000 calls for service every month, according to the department.
In 2020, NPD unveiled virtual and phone options to file incident reports. Going forward, if an officer is not available to respond in-person, citizens will be referred to these programs instead.
“NPD is not reducing services but changing the way we handle some non-emergency calls so we can provide better in-person services for more urgent matters,” Chief Goldsmith said.
The department released a graphic that provides examples of the incidents that will get an in-person response and which non-emergency calls will be directed to the Telephone Response Unit (TRU), the online Citizens Reporting System or the MyNorfolk App.
For example, if your vehicle is stolen or you’re involved in a hit-and-run, a police officer will likely not respond. Instead, you will be directed to use the phone option, according to the new organizational structure of services.
NPD is working with the Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the changes.
Stop The Violence 757 president and father of five, Freddie Taylor, told WAVY he supports the change. “This is not going to stop the major bleeding, but what it does is applies the bandage to stop the little ones and then it helps slow the progression of the major flow.”
Taylor went on to say that while some will be upset that officers do not respond in person to their non-emergency calls, he feels safer knowing that there will be police available to respond more quickly when time is of the essence. “When we come and we see police officers in their cars or walking in the community it gives us the sense of safety and that they’re there for that purpose; cause a lot of times due to the shortages it takes longer to respond,” he said.