HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Some Hopewell leaders are weighing in on what they think could help get a handle on an uptick in recent crime. The city manager points to the quick arrest in the shooting death of 32-year-old Marcus Parker late last week. He calls it a shining example of how authorities can crack a case when the public partners with police.
There were two recent meetings with city leaders. On Monday night, a town hall where the topic of crime came up, and Tuesday, a city council meeting. But at that meeting, where leaders had the power to vote and make changes, crime didn’t come up at all.
If you ask Hopewell residents, a rise in both shootings and people dying, as a result, is getting out of hand.
“If they want to be gangsters, treat them like gangsters OK? That’s all I got to say,” neighbor Evelyn Gross said during the virtual town hall.
Three council members organized the event and invited the rest of the council but the other four members did not show up to discuss crime and COVID-19.
“We know that we will need to work on the underlying issues that affect our neighborhoods and the health of those neighborhoods in the long run,” City Manager March Altman said.
He points to the arrest of 30-year-old Daemon Clark over the weekend - just two days after he’s accused of shooting and killing Marcus Parker in the Davisville Housing Community.
“It seemed police were able to do their job more efficiently because the neighborhood opened up and provided the information they needed,” council member Brenda Pelham added.
It’s why the Altman is calling on the public to trust the police.
“We have a lot of new officers, so if something happened five or 10 years ago, the likelihood is some of those officers are retired or gone now, and we have a lot of new officers on the street. So I would ask that the public give the police department the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Some leaders want to address much more, the issues they say lead to crime.
“To address workforce, housing, childcare, food access, mental health,” Mayor Jasmine Gore said. She has suggestions on how to do that. “Personally, I brought up the Shooting Task Force and bringing back the Neighborhood Watch Advisory Council to make sure members of the community most impacted by gun violence and crime could work directly with the police department because they know best what’s happening in their community.”
Others have ideas on how to prevent crime too but those topics haven’t made it to the portion of City Council’s agenda where leaders can discuss and vote on them, not even at Tuesday’s meeting. Therefore, crime never made the conversation.
Although the mayor presides over Hopewell council meetings, the vice-mayor sets the agenda.
“We’ve got to get this stuff together. I’m just frustrated with a lot of stuff that’s going on,” Gross said.
Another suggestion brought up Monday was investing in an elaborate system used in other cities that detects the location of gunfire in hopes of deterring people from opening fire. Altman suggested it would be costly, referring to a previous year when city leaders considered the same technology. The matter wasn’t brought before the entire council Tuesday to discuss.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.