State leaders offer solutions to rising violence in Hopewell

Families are worried for their safety as violence continues to strike the city of Hopewell.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:09 PM EST
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - State leaders are laying out possible solutions to growing violence in the city of Hopewell.

The plan was announced during a small press conference in the city.

Senator Joe Morrissey and Delegate Carrie Coyner hope to confront the issue with an effective drug court system and Group Violence Intervention, also known as Operation Ceasefire.

“The uptick in crime in Hopewell is going to stop. We’re going to use a tool that has proven efficacy,” Morrissey said.

The initiative would require support from multiple resources right in the city, including the Hopewell Police Department.

However, police chief AJ Starke was not at Thursday’s press conference. He told NBC12 that he did not receive an invitation but fully supported the plan.

The effort would tackle crime with a more personal approach by using resources within reach, such as community and city leaders.

“We do have most of [the resources] already, but we are not working collectively together in unison,” Coyner said. “The biggest resource is having a key staff person assisting the police chief and really managing and road mapping who’s doing what and making sure we’re consistent,” Coyner said.

Morrissey and Coyner said they’ve worked for months to address the rise in crime.

Homicides and property crime, they said, are the biggest problem for the city. Authorities said during a community meeting last week that most offenders are school-aged children.

“The fact that we have 12 and 13 and 14-year-old boys who are having to be told by teachers in school, ‘you need to put your gang signals down before we take a photo,’ we have a problem of folks snatching up our young people,” Coyner said.

Coyner said schools, churches and other community groups are on board with the potentially life-saving plan. Both state leaders have also talked with sheriff Travis Stanley and Commonwealth’s attorney Richard Newman.

But Morrissey said the city council isn’t 100% sold.

“Give it a chance to work is our message to city council, and I think we’ll see positive results,” he said.

According to Morrissey, the initiative has proved to reduce crime by 60 percent within 1 to 2 years in other parts of the country.

Once everyone is on board, the initiative would be the first of its kind in the Commonwealth.