City of Hopewell moves forward with Operation Ceasefire

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 11:22 PM EST
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - At a specially called meeting in Hopewell Thursday night, city leaders voted unanimously to move forward with the Operation Ceasefire program to curve a recent spike in violence in the city.

This comes just days after 8-year-old P’Aris Moore was shot and killed while riding her bike with her friends outside a family member’s home.

According to Hopewell Police, in 2022, the city saw nine murders compared to three in 2021.

Operation Ceasefire is a violence intervention program created almost 30 years ago to combat gang violence but has evolved to help communities in 2023.

“It’s very different. It’s not necessarily gang related as it was a lot of it is younger people, it is smaller social groups, it is social media,” Dr. Sarah Scarbrough, with the organization REAL LIFE, said.

Scarbrough will help with administering the program for the city of Hopewell.

Operation Ceasefire looks to partner up with many different organizations to identify who is causing the violence and give them an ultimatum.

“The estimate here is in two years, if we were to roll it out, homicides would drop by at least 30 percent, probably more,” Scarbrough said.

She said the program starts out by looking at crime data over the last few years and working with the police department to figure out who is causing the violence in the community.

That part of the process takes a few months, and once that’s done, members of the program will conduct what is called a Call-In.

Working with the jails, courts and police department members will identify the top groups causing shootings in the city and be given an opportunity to change.

“Right now, we are giving you an opportunity to change if you do. We have every service in this room that you may need,” Scarbrough said. “However, if you choose to come to our city again and shoot, you are going to be nailed to the wall.”

Scarbrough said if they fail to change, that’s when the Commonwealth Attorney steps in to lay down serious sentences for those crimes.

“This is about going after that whole group because, ultimately, the police department will lock up that one shooter,” Scarbrough said. " The issue is that the group is still out there, and that shooter will be replaced.”

The first public analysis will likely begin in February, with the first Call-In happening in June.