HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — Two Virginia lawmakers want to team up with Hopewell city leaders to work to further prevent crime in the city.

On Thursday, Dec. 8, Virginia Senator Joe Morrisey and Delegate Carrie Coyner held a press conference to address the recent rise and spike in crime throughout the city of Hopewell. The pair publicly called on city officials to implement initiatives in order to prevent more crime and protect citizens.

As of Dec. 4, there have been 557 major crimes reported in the city of Hopewell so far this year. Of those, 121 were violent crimes. There have been 8 homicides, 76 aggravated assaults and 29 robberies, according to the Hopewell Police Crime Summary released on Dec. 8.

During Thursday’s press conference, Morrissey and Coyner said action needs to be taken. Coyner said she decided to Morrissey a call after a Hopewell Christmas event held on Sunday, Dec. 4. Coyner said she noticed a drop in attendees and was told by community members, that they were worried about crime in broad daylight.

“Our community is very scared,” Coyner said. “We want every person in our community safe, alive and free. That’s a consistent message that we have got to get across. We have to make sure that our police, our community voices and our social supports are all functioning together cohesively.”

Like many other police departments across the country, the Hopewell Police Department is facing challenges, according to Police Chief Antonio “AJ” Starke. Starke says there are 12 vacancies that need to be filled. He also said that there is room for improvement and hopes to increase pay for officers.

Coyner and Morrissey are hoping to implement drug courts and a Group Violence Intervention (GVI), a cooperative effort between law enforcement and community leaders that has been used in other cities.

Morrissey said violent crime and its impact is being seen primarily in communities of color and GVI could be a tactic used to help.

“It is a proven record of success,” said Morrissey. “It’s not just focused on the victims and the most vulnerable, but the victimizers. GVI has been working for 20 years now and Kerry and I need everybody to buy into it.”

Coyner told 8News, she met with researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice along with Starke, the Hopewell Sheriff’s Office and the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Starke told 8News he supports the proposal for implementing GVI. In fact, Starke claims that the department is already involved in community policing similar to GVI but is always looking for more problem-solving partnerships.

Senator Morrissey and Delegate Coyner say they now need full support from City Council.