PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Officials from the City of Petersburg announced their plans to fight back against the recent rise in gun violence in a press conference held this morning.

At around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Mayor Samuel Parham took to the podium to announce the steps that the city would be taking after four separate shootings occurred over the course of four days.

“We want to share our sadness and condolences for the members of our community who have lost loved ones during these senseless acts of violence,” Parham said. “One life lost is too many.”

Mayor Samuel Parham (Photo: Forrest Shelor 8News)

The Mayor explained how the pandemic had affected social programs, youth activities, schools and jobs. And how the deterioration of these systems was responsible for the sudden increase in violent crime.

“It is the goal of Petersburg city council and city leaders to restore much-needed funding for these services and programs through grants,” Parham said. “And attracting new business and industry that will create better-paying jobs here in our community.”

Petersburg has been awarded $300,000 from the state for gun violence prevention. However, the specific uses of these funds are still in the preliminary stages of planning.

According to Parham, the city was also “aggressively seeking” funding through grant applications to develop long-term programs for conflict resolution, mentoring, emergency equipment and hiring additional police and social workers.

Parham said that the city has already committed millions in recovery and general funds to Parks and Rec, Police, Fire and Emergency Services.

“City council and city leaders are here to listen to your concerns and discuss solutions as we strive to stop the violence,” Parham said. “We encourage conversation and commitment from all of us.”

Petersburg’s Chief of Police, Travis Christian, began his address with some promising crime statistics from the year before.

In 2021, crime was reduced in five of six major crime categories; including rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, larcenies, burglaries and homicides. The homicide rate was reduced by 25% and the overall solve rate of Petersburg Police was 61.1% — in comparison to the national average of 62.3%.

Christian then described the grim results from the weekend, beginning at 8:44 p.m. on Friday and ending at 12:27 a.m. on Monday. Investigators have still made no arrests and very little information had been provided by the Petersburg public.

“Police can’t do it all by ourselves,” he lamented. “We can’t be on every corner, we can’t be in front of every porch, we can’t be in front of every building. We cannot do it all by ourselves.”

Chief Travis Christian (Photo: Forrest Shelor 8News)

Christian admitted that the department was lacking in manpower.

“While we may not necessarily have the full strength or the numbers that we want, it’s not because we’re not trying,” Christian said. “There’s a shortage in law enforcement throughout the country; People are not beating down the doors to be in police work now.”

After calling for the people of the city to help law enforcement in curbing the violence, Christian also announced that Virginia State Police would be providing additional resources to the city police.

“You will see an increased law enforcement presence in our city while we combat these incidents of violence and remove these dangerous criminals from our community,” Christian said.

Petersburg city has also allocated funding for the revival of the Police Athletic League program to better familiarize youth with law enforcement.

Christian also announced that a proposal would be brought before the city council, suggesting changes to the current curfew ordinance requiring those under 18 years of age to remain home with a parent or guardian between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“If I have my way as Chief of Police,” Christian said. “We would like to see children inside the house by 6 p.m. I know that creates heartburn for some people, but I would rather see your children inside the home than picking them up off the streets.”

Sen. Joe Morrissey of the 16th district, upon taking the podium, announced that he had spoken with Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Office.

Sen. Joe Morrissey (Photo: Forrest Shelor 8News)

“The governor has pledged the full weight of his office and all of his resources with all deliberate speed,” Morrissey said. “Not only to address this state of violence that began at 8:44 p.m. Friday but continued efforts to control violence in the City of Petersburg.”

According to Morrissey, these resources will not only include police and forensic resources, but also recreational facilities and jobs for youths.

“We are only as strong as our people,” Mayor Parham said in his closing remarks. “And I’m just here today to say that we have good people and this violence does not resemble what we are as a community.