Henrico police chief touts new crime prevention approach

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – With crime a constant threat, Henrico's new police chief has a 24/7 solution. The county is calling it Operation 360, an effort that goes after not only illegal activity, but also ugliness in county neighborhoods.

Since taking over in April, new Henrico Police Chief Doug Middleton has made no secret about one of his top priorities.

"Crime prevention is clearly the focus of what we're trying to accomplish," Middleton said Wednesday.

Middleton and Commanding Officer Clarence Hunter revealed the results of an effort to do just that. As part of Operation 360, police spent seven days this month patrolling the East Highland Park area, putting up some big numbers.

They made 185 arrests, seized 101 grams of cocaine, 68 grams of marijuana, and something else that can't be counted.

"The information that we got from those folks in the community was valuable to us in terms of planning future  strategies," Middleton said.

The effort is just beginning. In the future, officers will be more visible. They'll interact more with neighbors, including this man...who wouldn't show his face on camera.

"Be some good things, some bad things, but basically that's everywhere you go," he said.

The idea, is that talking with neighbors will shed more light on what matters to them.

"A lot of it was small, quality of life issues," Hunter said.

Things like tall grass, and litter. As the theory goes, if people feel pride, crime will go away. So -as part of Operation 360- patrol officers will have greater authority to call on county resources to make neighborhoods better.

"Identifying some of the issues that are important to them should be important to us," Middleton said.

For now, efforts have been focused on Eastern Henrico, but will be going county-wide in the months to come. Henrico's police chief says the operation isn't meant to focus on any particular type of crime. Instead, it's meant to address the unique concerns of different neighborhoods.

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