HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — A 26-year-old man was shot to death in the City of Hopewell overnight. Hours later, Police Chief AJ Starke stood alongside state police, sheriff’s deputies and the commonwealth’s attorney to announce a new task force to crack down on violent crime.

Since Dec 30th, 2022, the city has seen five homicides, including the murders of an 8-year-old in a drive-by shooting and a 17-year-old in a mobile home park.

“Things are not slowing down in Hopewell,” Starke said. “We’ve seen an uptick in violent crime and what we’re seeing is disturbing. Our citizens deserve to not live in fear.”

Starke said the new Violent Crime Task Force will mean an increased police presence in the streets, especially in the city’s hotspots.

“They’re going to see more traffic stops, more search warrants executed and they’re going to see us doing law enforcement the way it’s supposed to be done … proactive policing in Hopewell,” he said. “We know where the hotspots are in Hopewell. That’s where the focus is going to be.”

Starke admitted the previous policing in his city has not been as effective at limiting violent crime. Virginia State Police and the Hopewell Sheriff’s department will be assisting the effort.

During Monday’s press conference, Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Newman urged the public to speak up.

“The police cannot do it by themselves. It takes a whole community to keep a community safe,” Newman said.

According to Starke, the work of the task force begins immediately.

“We want the criminals terrorizing our citizens to know that they can’t do that,” Starke said.