PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Portsmouth is turning to prayer to take back the community. City and faith leaders came together Thursday night at City Park after a record year of homicides.

“Gun violence robs each of us of our greatest resource, our people,” said Mayor Shannon Glover.

Newly-named Police Chief Stephen Jenkins addressed the crowd stating 42 lives were lost to gun violence in 2022. The number of victims is up from 33 in 2021.

“We have to eliminate that list. It takes parents to get involved in their children’s lives, it takes those, the community to grab these kids, grab these young people as whole and cradle them and say that we’re here to support you,” Chief Jenkins told 10 On Your Side.

Portraits of those lost lined the makeshift stage at City Park as people in the crowd lit candles and prayed for peace and justice.

“My son was killed May the 22. We’re not okay. For each day is a different walk, a different pain. I stand before you all, I’m a mother that lost but I have two other sisters that have lost their boys to gun violence. It has to stop,” said Robin Parham who lost her son to gun violence.

Chief Jenkins stressed the importance of community involvement and playing an active role in your neighborhood.

“What’s always been missing is the community’s involvement and police departments across the country, especially here in Hampton Roads, better start saying we need you to step up and help us,” Chief Jenkins stated.

Mayor Shannon Glover recalled a conversation he had with the mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, a city that is also grappling with increases in violence.

“Portsmouth is worth saving,” Glover concluded.