July 12, 2017 - Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult gave City Council an update on crime at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Among the key results:
Hampton’s rate of violent crime remains below that of most of its neighbors. At 2.78 crimes per thousand people Hampton was third safest in the area, behind Virginia Beach and Suffolk. Hampton saw significantly fewer violent crimes per capita than Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Overall, serious crimes (Part 1), which saw decreases in 2013 and 2014, have returned to 2012 levels. In 2016, the city saw an average of 36.7 crimes per 1,000 people. Hampton is by no means alone: Newport News’ rate was about the same, at 36.01 per thousand population. Norfolk’s and Portsmouth’s were higher.
“We have always been one of the safest cities as far as violent crime,” said Sult. Property crimes are largely driving the increase in overall crime, he said.
The update was one part of an update on the city’s Safe and Clean initiative, in which departments collaborate and work intensively in defined areas to address issues of crime and blight. Those efforts include the police, other departments, neighborhood and housing initiatives, and increasing opportunities for young people in the city.
Here are some of the other updates:
Gun Crimes Task Force: Many of the shootings are committed by the same people, said Sult. Increased technology and investigation being implemented will match bullet information across jurisdictions and other intelligence. That is designed to identify repeat offenders of violent crime. Regional efforts are beginning to quickly analyze shell casings and find repeat offenders. “One shooting is a misdemeanor that a judge may not take seriously,” said Sult. “but if we can link it to other offenses and a straw purchase, we have a more serious case."
ConnectProtect Mobile App: In the two months since the app's launch, police have received 75 tips. “You can send a video or photo totally anonymously,” said Police Lt. Jason Price. Those are embedded with the location of where they were taken. Future technology will allow the police to send that video immeditately to officers near the scene. (You can download the free app at the Android and Apple stores; search for Hampton VA police.)
Rental inspections: 430 rental inspections in the last year, and the program has expanded in Phoebus.
Neighborhood initiatives: Training neighborhood leaders, simplify rules on neighborhood events and increased staff-neighborhood interactions. The city is piloting an “ABCD” program in two areas. The asset-based program relies more heavily on issues residents identify and are willing to work on.
Reinvestment: The value of new buildings and building improvements in the identified Safe & Clean areas continues to increase, topping $7 million in the past year.
Youth opportunities: 69 people are currently employed with the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program. They are working at 10 private and non-city sites and for six city departments. Several other mentoring and partnering programs have also launched.
In other action, Council:
- Approved an amendment to the Community Plan that would allow some commercial nodes at entrances to Langley Research and Development Park.
- Allowed a pawn shop at 100 W. Mercury Blvd.
- Deferred a decision on a proposed residential development on Mallory Street.
- Heard a presentation on hurricane preparedness planning, including a reminder about changes in evacuation zones (knowyourzoneva.org)