PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In response to the recent violence, leaders in Portsmouth and Norfolk are trying to take back their communities.

On Wednesday night, Bishop Barry Randall hosted “The Tale of Two Cities Gun Violence Epidemic” forum in Portsmouth. The goal was to find solutions to gun violence in the area.

Panelists included community activists and law enforcement. One of the big topics was community policing.

Bilal Muhammad, with Stop the Violence Team, said, “When we’re talking about establishing community policing, let’s start again with ourselves, reconstruct our thinking then branch out with other organizations and let us build that strong relationship. Once we re-establish that relationship, we’ll have a more safe, peaceful, united community.”

Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince said police are designed to be part of the community and he encourages his officers to get involved.

“The hard part for any police department is making those community contacts, which is also part of community policing, so that you get to know officers,” said Prince. “What we’re trying to do now is we’re trying to get our officers to attend civic league meetings and anything else that happens in the community.”

Prince also says they are constantly working to improve and welcome any feedback from the public.

The forum comes after recent violence in the region, notably multiple shootings in busy downtown areas in Norfolk.

Norfolk Police Chief Larry Boone was originally supposed to attend Wednesday’s forum, but did not after the city announced his upcoming retirement earlier in the afternoon.