VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A newly-formed task force with the Virginia Beach Police Department took to the streets Friday night.
It’s part of a new initiative that focuses on addressing violent crime in the city. It also aims to ward off crime during the holiday season.
“We really wanted to get boots on the ground, be visible in the community, try to engage,” said Chief Paul Neudigate.
Officers on foot, bike and horseback canvassed the Atlantis Apartment community Friday night.
It’s the first engagement effort of the new task force that aims to crack down on crime following a recent string of shootings in the city.
“We’ve heard the recent concerns about the elevated violence, and specifically the gun violence, and we want them to feel safe and secure,” Neudigate said.
The chief said the task force helps police form positive relationships in the community.
“The horses are definitely that conduit to break down some of the barriers and get some of the engagement between us,” he said.
It’s also an opportunity to see if anything can be done differently.
“There are things here we’d like to look at — some enhanced lighting and look at it through a crime prevention model and design and see if there’s some things to work with the management to enhance safety and security in the area,” Neudigate said.
Atlantis residents told 10 On Your Side the officers’ presence was a welcome surprise.
“Sometimes you don’t feel like they care, but I see now that they do care out here in Atlantis and because of that, I’m grateful,” said Margie Davis.
The task force will be going out to several areas across the city in the coming weeks.
Neudigate said they’re letting the data and citizen concerns guide them.
“Sometimes it’s very hard because we’re busy with calls for service, but we have to find time to get out, boots on the ground, walk the community and engage and let them know we care.”
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