NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Newport News has a new top cop who has big plans to make the city safer.
Police Chief Richard Myers came from Colorado Springs and took over for James Fox, who retired last summer. He has spent 37 years policing, so even though he’s only been on the job in Newport News for five weeks, he’s already formulating plans on how how to tackle crime in the city. 10 On Your Side sat down with him Tuesday to talk about his vision for the police department.
Newport News has the 4th largest police department in Virginia, with 440 sworn officers serving a population of more than 187,000. Chief Myers is clear about the department’s focus in the community: “Do people feel safer? Are we bringing down violent crime in general so that people can see a difference in improvements in the quality of life?”
Statistics show homicides in Newport News fluctuate from year to year:
- 2013 – 15 homicides
- 2012 – 21 homicides
- 2011 – 17 homicides
- 2010 – 23 homicides
The Chief is aware of these statistics and others, but hopes police partnering with the community can help turn things around.
“The police department, collectively, all of us working to grow the trust and respect the community can have for us as police officers and that’s going to be based on a relationship. You don’t trust who you don’t know,” explained Chief Myers.
He plans to take a broader approach in dealing with gangs: “I can’t sit here and tell you five weeks into my job that we have a definitive game plan, but what I’m very pleased about is we’re pulling together resources from some very diverse places.”
Myers said the department’s gang unit will involve more community components to try and tackle what he called a social and community-wide problem.
This weekend the Chief says small groups of police recruits will visit neighborhoods, asking residents about their concerns, their expectations and getting to know the people they will serve when they graduate.