NN police chief demands better arrest rate for homicides

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Newport News police chief says the department’s clearance rate for homicides must improve. Steve Drew began as chief in early July and says he’s already seeing some improvement.

“The good news in Newport News is that the last six weeks we’ve seen a steady reduction of crime in this city.”

10 On Your Side looked at Newport News homicide cases from January through July of this year. There were 17 cases in all, but just four arrests, less than 25 percent. 

Police arrested Jamari Saunders-Lewis, 20, in the February shooting death of Devin Bowles on Lassiter Drive, and arrested Lawrence Roosevelt Smith, 43, in the April stabbing death of Laquita Ball.

Police arrested 15-year-old suspects in the two other cases – one of them when Stephen Davis Jr. was gunned down at 32nd and Marshall six months ago. Davis was just 17.

“I have way too many kids being shot in this city,” Drew said in a Thursday afternoon interview.

In fact of the 17 killings through July, 12 of them, a whopping 71 percent, involved victims who were no older than 25.

“It tells me that I’ve got a lot of young people that have access to a lot of firearms,” Drew said. “They’re not resolving conflict. Their first choice is to pick up a firearm and start spraying rounds.”

Drew wants to shorten response time by officers and give precinct captains more autonomy in the field. He says his community meetings, including three this week alone, and neighborhood walks are already proving effective.

Drew says in the wake of any crime, citizens need to trust the department enough to come forward.
He says he understands their perception of fear.

“I’m not asking you to come to court. I’m not asking you to reveal who you are. Officers aren’t going to come to your door.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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