PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — City leaders in Portsmouth called a special council meeting Tuesday night to address violent crime in the city after an uptick in shootings and homicides.
“I don’t sleep at night because I worry about the officers, I worry about the citizens,” said Police Chief Renado Prince to council members Tuesday.
Prince stepped into his role as head of the Portsmouth Police Department five months ago but has been in law enforcement for 41 years.
“I’m using everything that I’ve been exposed to in law enforcement. I’m using everything that you’ll see in the adjoining jurisdictions,” Prince said.
The police chief stressed he’s been writing and rewriting the book for how things should be done within the department. He’s also been working closely with Portsmouth Sheriff Michael Moore.
“To fight crime, we’ve got to stop fighting amongst ourselves,” Moore said.
Moore is spearheading a federal program called Operation LeGend, named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was killed by a stray bullet in Kansas City while sleeping in his bed. The program deploys agents from federal agencies to help local law enforcement fight violent crime.
Another effort is Operation Red Ball. The program seizes illegal guns by pulling officers from their units so they can focus on crime. It was first initiated last month but Prince says it’s not sustainable over long periods of time.
“I will do whatever that I can do, personally or otherwise, to ensure that you all have the resources to do your job,” said Mayor Shannon Glover.
Project Safe Neighborhoods is another program community leaders are working to bring to the city. PSN is coordinated by the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and helps cities create comprehensive plans to address violent crime.
Cedric Cradle attended Tuesday’s special council meeting. Cradle operates Unseen Tears, an organization that creates canvas portraits of youth who’ve lost their lives because of gun violence.
“If we don’t do something now, you see these pictures? We’re going to be making more of these pictures,” Cradle told 10 On Your Side.
Cradle thinks the programs themselves won’t be enough to solve a problem that’s been around for years.
“You’ve got to put boots on the ground and because police officers are deterrents, I don’t care if they just park a car in some of these communities,” Cradle explained.
Before the meeting concluded, Prince told council members that even with new programs, there won’t be a change overnight. Fighting violence is a process.