HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — City officials held a crime summit at Carter G. Woodson Middle School in Hopewell Wednesday in an effort to interact with the community and find solutions to address their concerns over recent violence in the city.
Hopewell Police Chief Kamran Afzal presented a 10-year crime report to residents. The report showed that narcotics distributions and homicides are up in the city. In 2018, Hopewell Police probed six homicides. Last year, that number dropped to five. Of the five, the fatal slaying of Richmond Fire Lieutenant Ashley Berry, was included.
With this year’s homicide toll already at two, residents and city officials are concerned.
“It’s a lot to do with the lack of work in this locality,” said Hopewell resident Naquetta Mitchell. “The jobs that are here are very low paying and the ones that are here that pay well, you have to have a couple degrees to get them.”
“If you look at any healthy community and they don’t have crime that is high in nature, you will see that they are economical, they are a lot better off than our community is at this point,” said Police Chief Afzal.
A local business owner named Jeff Bridges told 8News he’s noticed a change in the city.
“It’s been a little more violent lately,” Bridges said. “There was a shootout up the road a little over a month ago and there was another one like three or four weeks ago pretty close to here.”
Hopewell officials hope to step up patrols and engage the community more, but ask the residents for help. They add anyone who may have seen or heard about a crime to call the police in an effort to check the streets safer.
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