NEWPORT NEWS — The police chief here gathered the community Tuesday morning and discussed last year’s crime statistics.
Chief Steve Drew did so in a news conference in the community room of the department’s main headquarters off Jefferson Avenue. He spoke for just under an hour.
Around 80 people, including police officers, city officials and multiple news outlets attended but only two questions, both from reporters, were asked.
Mayor McKinley Price, Vice Mayor Tina Vick, Councilwoman Saundra Cherry, City Manager Cynthia Rolf and Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker III were also in attendance.
Drew mentioned violent crimes such as murder, rape and robbery have decreased since last year, but aggravated assaults increased by 19.9 percent.
“Aggravated assaults is where we missed the mark,” he said.
See the data below.
Another topic Drew mentioned was the number of overdoses spread out throughout the city.
“That means it is a Newport News problem, not just a neighborhood problem,” he said.
In addition to crime statistics, Drew mentioned several department initiatives including an increased social media presence, community walks through high-crime neighborhoods and working with other entities such as the human services department, the city’s public schools and the Redevelopment & Housing Authority.
Some of last year’s community initiatives ranged from Drew’s “Chat with the Chief” Facebook Live sessions, where users can ask questions and comment directly to Drew, to a youth basketball program, where several police officers help coach at-risk and underprivileged boys.
Next year, Drew plans to create a homicide support group, increase interactions with elementary schools, hire a domestic violence crime coordinator and increase resources to the special victims unit and other initiatives.
Drew said he also wants to focus on three neighborhoods –Courthouse Green, Ridley Circle and Marshall Courts — and work with the military in regards to the homeless and suicides.
“The city only wins if we all work together,” he said.