NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Violent crime is down 18 percent over July 2017 and the city is on track to see a 37 percent reduction in violent crime over a two-year period.
“So far, we are winning,” said Chief Larry Boone. “If it turns, we will deal with that. I am trying to create an organization where we make no excuses, we are held accountable and we are looking for measurable outcomes.”
Boone took over as chief in December 2016. The department reported a 19 percent drop in violent crime by the end of his first year on the job. Boone says that is the biggest drop in the Mermaid City since 1998.
Boone says the department’s strategy has been focused on “hot bodies and hot areas.” He says that means identifying and tracking gang members and other known criminals and deploying additional resources to neighborhoods where crimes are occurring.
The chief says poverty and easy access to firearms are two driving forces behind crime.
In 2017, Boone commissioned a gun study that traced 700 firearms used in crimes back to the owners. He says 88 percent of the guns ended up being tied to the original purchaser and 100 guns were tied back to juveniles.
“My focus is on our youth. They are not at a point mentally to be handling guns,” said Boone. “Unfortunately, we have young men that choose a lifestyle that in almost all cases brings an end to their demise.”
The chief says the solution is two-fold: getting criminals off the street and restoring hope among young men and women.
“I want our officers to perform community outreach from the heart,” the chief said. “If you cannot connect with people emotionally, you are never going to connect with them.”
Boone says community building does not solely rest on the shoulders of the police department. He says the city, school system, faith-based organizations and all citizens must play a part.
“We are trying to improve the lives of our citizens that reside in Norfolk and if we are able to do just what we are talking about we have no choice but see improvement.”