Hopewell Police Chief talks solutions to curb spike in violent crime
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - No matter where you go, crime is on the rise and the city of Hopewell is no exception.
The city’s police chief A.J. Starke says he’s had enough of the crime spike in crime after more than 40 shots were fired on Poplar street Thursday night sending one man to the hospital.
“That’s the elephant in the room we all see it. We know it’s there,” Starke said.
A home and some vehicles were also damaged during the shooting. Starke says the investigation is ongoing, but he says the department has a person of interest and believes the shooting wasn’t random.
“These people are causing havoc in our communities and people are afraid,” Starke said. “We have groups of people who, I would say, are gangs and identify themselves with names whether it’s the communities they live in or other geographical areas.”
Starke says while on a routine visit to Hopewell High School Friday morning, school officials pulled a loaded gun from a student’s backpack. That student is now in custody.
“It is alarming. If your kid has a firearm, that’s a problem and we need parents to be just as upset about that as we are,” Starke said.
But Starke doesn’t just want to point the finger, he wants to extend the olive branch to the community to partner with police to help maintain safety in the city.
“We need community involvement I understand very clearly that people are afraid people don’t want to go on camera, they don’t wanna be seen talking to police but we need our community to understand that there are ways you can communicate to police,” Stark said. “The community deserves better there are a lot of good people that live here in Hopewell they want to be safe they want to live in peace.”
Starke says the city is also stepping up in a major way to make sure police have the tools necessary to keep criminals off the streets.
“City council within the last couple of weeks gave a unanimous vote to fund public safety in the amount of $400,000 and we are very grateful,” Starke said.
But as for what that technology that money would be spent on, Starke says he doesn’t want to tip off possible criminals.
“They don’t call us and tell us when they are going to commit their crime and hurt someone and we don’t as law enforcement is not going to tell them what we’re going to do to put them in jail,” Starke said. “But our goal is to get them off the street, our goal is to hold them accountable and let the community see that we are working to provide the safety that they deserve.”
Starke says plans are in the works to develop a partnership with Virginia State Police to help reduce violent crime.
Anyone with information that could help the police is asked to call crime solvers at 804-541-2202.
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