VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Police Department will be patrolling the resort area in a different way in what is clearly an already “different” Fourth of July weekend.
There will be no publicly-funded fireworks show over the Atlantic this Independence Day due to COVID-19 concerns. However, city officials still expect it to be one of the “busiest weekends of the summer.”
At a special session of the Virginia Beach City Council Thursday afternoon, Interim Police Chief Tony Zucaro addressed his department’s plan to keep things safe following a month of violence at the vacation destination.
Zucaro explained that following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police “anti-police sentiment” has grown.
“Officers are encountering hostility on a nightly basis,” Zucaro said, often being subject to verbal abuse.
Zucaro said often officers are surrounded immediately when engaged in a call. As a result, Zuccaro is reducing foot patrols and adding two-officer vehicle patrols at the Oceanfront in the interest of safety.
Since May 31, there have been six shootings around the Oceanfront area with a total of 11 victims. One of the victims was killed.
According to Zucaro, in the first half of 2020, there have been 36 shootings in the city.
On June 21, officers say someone shot and killed 26-year-old Calvin “Demerius” Allen near 30th Street and Pacific Avenue.
Allen was from North Carolina. His family says he was visiting Virginia Beach on vacation, and they’re asking people who saw what happened to come forward.
Police say if you have any information on these shootings, you should contact them.
Since May 31 of this year, 181 people were arrested at the Oceanfront for various crimes. The majority of those people live in the city.
“I don’t think there is anybody in the sound of my voice that would disagree that what is happening at the Oceanfront is unacceptable,” said Councilman Guy Tower, who represents the Beach District which includes the resort area.
Zucaro says the Oceanfront patrols have been beefed up to include specialty units, redeployment of officers from other areas and use of “stadium lighting.”
Moving forward, the chief says newer approaches are needed.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this,” Zucaro said.
Zucaro part of his briefing on events that have happened May 31, 2020. That is the night a protest organized by Black Lives Matter 757 ended with looting at the Oceanfront and teargas.
Zucaro said 10 out of 12 identified suspects who committed crimes May 31 have been arrested. There are 60 charges total for 51 incidents.
There are also four charges stemming from incident police believe involved Manny Wilder, the driver of a red truck that sped through a crowd of protesters during the demonstration on May 31 at the Oceanfront.
Police are still reviewing videos from social media, city and business cameras and born-worn cameras.
Public Works Director Mark Johnson also addressed Sandbridge parking, which neighbors say has been a mess.
Johnson says 689 parking spaces will be available this weekend with beach replenishment equipment moving out. Eventually, they hope to get to 1,000 spots.
Starting this week, two electric road signs will be placed at the top of Sandbridge Road off the intersection of General Booth Boulevard alerting people if parking lots are full before they make the kong trek to the beach.
Stay with WAVY.com except for details.
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