Police Chief gives update on Hopewell’s new Violent Crimes Task Force

The city of Hopewell's newest violent crimes task force is already seeing results.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 6:43 PM EST
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) -The city of Hopewell’s newest violent crimes task force is already seeing results. The unit has seized over a dozen guns and other drugs off the streets in just a few weeks.

That violent crimes task force, made up of multiple law enforcement agencies, was announced at the end of January after the city’s 4th homicide of the year. And while there haven’t been any other homicides since then, crime is still present in the city, impacting over a dozen families who have lost loved ones.

Brionna Taylor lost her 8-year-old daughter P’Aris Moore after she was shot dead just before New Year’s Eve while riding her bike with her friends on Freeman Street.

“It’s not right like you’re really taking people’s kids away from them when I heard the news stories about you know, everybody else’s kids. It don’t really hit home until it hits your door,” said Brionna Taylor.

Vannette Taylor is the mother of 26-year-old TeAndray Taylor. He was killed on Langston Park Drive just a few weeks ago.

“Someone came and marched their way into our city and took my son’s life and left behind his two children, his siblings and left his mom and father without his presence,” Vannette Taylor said.

Both families plead for answers and for their kids’ killers to be found. It’s something Police Chief A.J. Starke is working to accomplish with the help of the city’s newest violent crimes task force, which has already made progress on cutting down on crime since it was activated at the end of January.

“We’ve taken crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, we’ve taken pills off the street illegal pills, and we’ve made a number of felony arrests,” Starke said.

The task force has also introduced a new way to analyze bullet shell casings found at crime scenes which will help police quickly identify how many shooters and guns were used. More technology will be activated around the city soon to catch criminal activity.

”The technology that we’re leveraging, I have been sort of guarded as far as discussing it openly with the public because I don’t want the criminals out there to know exactly what we’re doing,” Starke said.

Chief Starke explained that despite some troubles with staffing shortages, they now have help from Virginia State Police and special agents working in plain clothes to help catch criminals in the city.

One of the most significant measures the task force is trying to put into play is having more community meetings and watch groups.

“It’s definitely going to take citizens. Citizens have to talk. You definitely have to report suspicious activities report what you see,” Vannette Taylor said.

As police keep working on cutting down on crime and these mothers look for answers to TeAndrey and P’Aris’s deaths, if you have any information that could help, you’re urged to call the Hopewell Prince George Crime Solvers hotline at 804-541-2202.