VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side sat down with Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate to discuss the department’s measures to combat violence in the Resort City this summer.

It’s part of a series of conversations with other local police chiefs, including interviews with Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew and former Portsmouth Police Chief Renado Prince. Chesapeake Police denied an interview request, but shared some of the preemptive measures they’re taking to combat crime.

The police department in Virginia’s largest city deals with a lot more than just public safety.

“For all the things that we ask our police departments to do and our men and women, we don’t have enough officers,” said Neudigate.

Now, factor in the added need for manpower at the Oceanfront during the summer months, manpower that’s in short supply as the department faces a 100-officer shortage.

“All the citizen’s academies, all the community meetings, all the community walks, everything that we do to show that policing and enforcement is one piece,” he said.

In spite of the challenges, Chief Neudigate says technology is part of the solution.

“I’m very grateful to this community, very grateful to council that they’ve given us the funding for investment technology,” said Neudigate. “And technology has to be that force multiplier for us.”

So, what types of technology is being used by the department to compensate for officer shortages?

“So it’s the gunshot detection at the Oceanfront, in western Bayside. It’s the additional cameras for our camera networks. It’s license plate reader technology,” he said.

And the data suggest so far, it’s working.

Chief Neudigate says overall crime – including homicides, aggravated assaults, rapes and robberies – are down 19% from this time last year. He says there’s also a 26% decrease in shooting victimization compared to this time last year.

“We know that we went 343 days, almost a full year, without a person shot in the resort area,” he said.

Neudigate says the last homicide on the resort strip was during a night of chaos in March 2021 when 28-year-old Deshayla Harris was shot and killed. That’s the same night a VBPD officer shot and killed 25-year-old Donovon Lynch.

He credits help from the Sheriff’s Office, community engagement and their policing strategy for the recent reduction in crime.

“Everything we do is built around the community. The community gives us our authority to go out there and enforce the laws on their behalf. We’re really just the paid servants of the community,” he said.

One area he wishes he had more manpower to build on, community engagement.

“Every interaction takes away the uniform and shows us as a person that you can rely on us, and that we’re not just a nameless figure responding to a call,” said Neudigate.

With the addition of a police substation at the Oceanfront providing a space for officers, technological tools, and community support – Neudigate feels confident the resort city will be a safe place this summer.

“I think we have very sound crime strategies, and we’ll continue to build on them, but what I always say is what we’re doing today is not successful tomorrow, we’ll tweak it,” he said.

Chief Neudigate also said their traffic stops play an important role as well with more people out and about.