Petersburg Police to meet with community to discuss crime trends - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Petersburg Police to meet with community to discuss crime trends, challenges

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -

As Petersburg Police work to overcome serious challenges, the department's top cop doesn't want the issues to get in the way of keeping you safe. That was the message from a community forum Thursday afternoon where neighbors gathered to learn how public safety will be impacted following a shake-up in city leadership. "Policing has always had this cloak and dagger type of thing. What we want to do is make sure folks see what we do and how we do it,” Chief John Dixon told the crowd.

The meeting came as neighbors were curious about the department's future given a current investigation into money allegedly missing from the evidence room and even a lawsuit by Petersburg's own officers claiming inadequate pay for working overtime. "He's not saying 'no comment' to anybody. He's not avoiding the public criticism,” said Prince Duke, who showed up to listen.

In an exclusive interview this week, Dixon said he welcomes the investigation by state police and plans to cooperate.

Then, there's also the shake-up in the city's leadership. "Without a city manager and an attorney, the police hands are tied because they depend on them for guidance,” said Yolanda Stokes who is concerned.

Chief Dixon insisted the work goes on. This week, he said he met with the city's interim chief operating officer, a new position following the city manager's dismissal. The chief said expectations to be pro-active and keep the city safe remain at the forefront. He pointed to the city's only homicide of the year, which was quickly solved with two suspects behind bars. "Whatever issues we do have, we will reach out and solve them,” Dixon added.

"He knows there's a problem. He's not shying away from it. He's inviting the community to become involved. It's the beginning for transparency,” Duke said.

The conversation continues next month with a community crime forum between the public and police. It's scheduled for Saturday April 23 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will be held at Gillfield Baptist Church.

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