HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — In the midst of a local rise in crime that is impacting Hopewell families, city leaders will soon consider a community-led effort to make their community safer.

At a special meeting on Thursday, Jan. 5., Hopewell city leaders will hear about Group Violence Intervention, otherwise known as Operation Ceasefire. Delegate Carrie Coyner says the project uses a coordinated effort with community groups to help reduce violent crime.

According to Coyner, violent acts in Hopewell are up about 70%, a spike she blames on the pandemic, drugs and neighboring areas pushing out criminals. She also says this increase in crime is impacting children and their families.

“We do have a crisis in our city,” she said. “It’s time to say our children deserve the same childhood as kids in every other place. They deserve to have their bikes outside. Parents deserve to know that they come home at night.”

Coyner will be introducing representatives from Real Life, a non-profit based in Richmond, at the Thursday meeting. They will be there to help unify all of the community groups that have the same goal of keeping the city safe.

“We’re pulling members out of those small groups and showing them we’re here for you,” Coyner said. “There’s a better path in violence in our city and we need to be unified.”

Tavorise Marks, who owns a business in Hopewell, is also attending the meeting to support the project.

“Getting customers to come here to the office to conduct business sometimes can be challenging because of their fear of coming to the city,” he said. “The city of Hopewell needs this,”

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services is accepting applications for the program now. The project will be able to officially begin once Hopewell city council members, the police chief and the prosecutor are all on board.