Hopewell launches new initiative to help cut down on crime

Last year, the city of Hopewell saw a rise in violent crime by over 70 percent.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 6:09 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Last year, the city of Hopewell saw a rise in violent crime by over 70%.

”We had a historic number of homicides. We had nine homicides that year,” said Donnie Reid, the deputy chief of Hopewell Police Department.

Not even an entire month into 2023, the city hit almost half of that number, with four killings reported.

”What we are using are credible members of the community that have a history in the criminal justice system to deliver a message against violence to our community,” Reid explained.

That’s where Operation Ceasefire comes in. It’s a nationally recognized program that works to cut crime by identifying people who are most likely to be involved in a shooting and then offering them resources, like life coaches and after-school programs, to help make it easier for them to make better life choices.

The city’s version of the program is called Project Safe, Alive and Free.

”What we will be doing is offering them services and basically asking them not to not be engaged in violence and not to retaliate,” stated Maurice Washington, who is a violence prevention coordinator.

The city has a list of about 30 people who they think will benefit from the program. Relatability will be a crucial piece in the success of the program, according to Hopewell Police Department. That’s why some of the coordinators are former criminal offenders who lived through similar experiences to those they’re helping.

“A lot of the inner city youth and young men don’t even realize they have another option besides what they see around them or on their block, me being from the same environment and going through that product of gun violence myself and a perpetrator at one time I understand the options that they see, and I’m here to provide a different view for them,” said Donyel Burrell, who is a SAF coordinator.

Operation Ceasefire will launch on June 1. The program has been in the works since January and will run alongside the city’s new Violent Crimes Task Force.