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Petersburg Police, VSP partner to curb spike in violent crime

Like other police agencies, Peterburg Police has been managing a spike in violent crimes and shooting within the city with fewer officers on the force and resid
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 7:00 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Like other police agencies, Peterburg police has been managing a spike in violent crimes and shootings within the city with fewer officers on the force. Residents like Latour Dabney say the crime is hitting close to home.

Lately, violent crimes have been happening just a few blocks from where he lives.

“I just found out yesterday two blocks down the street from my house that a gunman wrecked his car from shooting off Wythe Street in broad daylight,” Dabney said.

Dabney references a shooting off Dunlop and West Wythe Street Monday afternoon. A man was shot in the neck and crashed his vehicle into a tree. He is now in critical condition at a local hospital.

A few days earlier, just over a mile away, two men were sent to the hospital in a double shooting Friday night on Halifax Street.

“Friday night, we had two cars come in the middle of our intersection at Farmer and South Dunlop and pretty much up beside each other and have a gun battle,” Dabney said.

Dabney says one thing hasn’t changed the entire time he’s lived in Petersburg. He claims for several years; the violence has been happening in the same trouble spots at Indiana Lane, Rome Sreet, Wythe Streets, Dunlop Street and Farmer Street.

Dabney says the spike is putting residents in a stressful position.

“These have been trouble areas for over 20 years. At some point, somebody needs to address the issues,” Dabney.

But Police Chief Travis Christian says the force covers crime all over the city, not just in the western portions.

Despite working with fewer Petersburg officers, Chief Christian says he’s hopeful that its recent partnership with Virginia State Police will curb that spike.

“This is not the first time we’ve partnered with Virginia State Police,” Christian said. “They’ll be making patrols, they’ll be making routine traffic stops and in some cases, they’ll be making arrests as well as they deem necessary.”

The partnership collaborates with Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Administration and State Police. The two agencies have been working together for a month and will do so for the foreseeable future. Cheif Christian wants the multiplied presence to send a clear message.

“We’ve already identified certain individuals who have created havoc in our city and with the assistance of the state and federal partnerships that we have built, we’re going to make sure we do everything we can to bring those individuals who choose to create a lot of fear in our city, we’re going to bring them to justice.”

But Dabney says he wants to see more of a presence he believes is bearing the brunt of the shootings. He believes folks are running out of options.

“A lot of my neighbors and a lot of friends that I’ve heard we’re ready to take the matters into our own hands and it shouldn’t be the citizens that have to be vigilantes just to feel safe in their own home,” Dabney said.

Even with a more prominent police force, the Chief says he’s still relying on help from the public to send in tips that could lead to an arrest.

Anyone can call Petersburg Crime Stoppers at 804-861-1212. The tips are anonymous and residents who leave tips that lead to an arrest and conviction could earn up to $1,000 for their efforts.

The department says private agencies are also donating to the reward fund to encourage people to leave tips.

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