PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth Police Chief Stephen Jenkins was visibly frustrated as he gave his presentation during City Council’s crime-focused special meeting Tuesday.
He didn’t hold back.
“I’m tired of coming up here,” Jenkins said. “I want to be the police chief. I want to change this department.”
The police chief issued a call to action.
“Enough is enough,” Jenkins said. “This is not new to Portsmouth.”
Since the start of the year, Jenkins said violent crimes are up by almost 2% and property crimes up by almost 3%. While the rate of crime, Jenkins says, is slowing — with 98 vacancies department-wide — his team is getting burned out.
“We need some help and we need folks to get involved and stop the talk,” Jenkins said. “Let’s put the egos aside. Either you’re a part of the problem or the solution. That’s where I’m at. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
The police chief praised the city’s license plate readers and gunshot identification software for helping catch criminals along with the rebirth of local neighborhood watches, but said there’s still work to be done.
“It is going to take bold action for us to address some of these issues,” Jenkins said.
Councilman Vernon Tillage Jr. was quick to agree.
“It’s not that the police aren’t doing their job,” Tillage said. “It’s, what are we doing to prevent crime. Prevention comes in with community, it comes in with city leaders, it comes in with non-traditional leaders and mental health, healthcare experts.”
You can find Portsmouth’s latest crime statistics here.