VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As homicide rates spike across the country, a new report released Wednesday puts three Hampton Roads cities among the top 30 with the highest increase.
WalletHub put Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Norfolk in the top 30 cities with the highest increase in homicide rates when comparing 50 of the largest U.S. cities based on per capita homicides between March 2020 and April 2022.
“Right now, I think there is a call to immediacy and priority on this and we in the 757 are taking it seriously,” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer told 10 On Your Side.
Dyer said the crimes have no border in Hampton Roads. “Sometimes a dispute can start in one city and culminate with gun violence in another city.”
Dyer and the six other Hampton Roads mayors sat down in March and April to work on finding solutions.
They decided to step up code enforcement on drugs, traffic and parking at rest and entertainment venues.
Norfolk is addressing a police shortage by announcing the city will hire retired police officers and has restructured how it responds to calls in an effort to put more cops on the streets.
Dyer said, however, by the time the crime scene tape goes up, it’s too late. “The secret is going to be early intervention, getting things nipped in the bud.”
Dyer said that as local mayors meet to come up with more short and longer-term solutions, mental health is at the top of the list. He also advocates getting into schools and teaching conflict resolution.
“There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to really dig into the causes and the nature of what’s going on,” said Dyer.
Police, city managers and others from across the 757 are collecting data now to be shared on a dashboard that will be used to drive the next mayors meeting in the direction of creating a safer community.
Dyer said there is no date yet for the next meeting, but it is “In the works.”