Newport News police create task force, target crime hot spots

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Newport News police announced a new plan aimed at taking back the community. They are targeting neighborhoods they say have become violent hot spots.

“Sometimes it can be quiet,” said Newport News resident Sheila Maith. “It can be peaceful sometimes and sometimes it can be the O.K. Corral.”

There is no rhyme or reason for the gunfire at the Aqueduct Apartments.

“It doesn’t have to be dark,” added resident Marilyn Walker. “It could be sunny. It could be rainy or snowy. It’s scary.”

Walker has lived in the Aqueduct from more than 20 years. Her fear is for the children.

“We had a shooting out here a couple weeks ago and it was in the middle of the day,” Walker said. “There were children outside playing and that’s not fair to them. They need to have a safe place where they can grow up.”

“You can’t come outside and then if you are outside you can’t go anywhere,” Maith added. “It gets to point where you need to hit the floor, because you don’t know where the bullets are coming from.”

Monday, Newport News officers met with residents to tell them help is on the way.

“We pulled together a special task force,” said Newport News Assistant Police Chief Stacy Kelly. “It is going to be made of 15 officers that are just going to respond to the areas in question.”

Police say they’ve seen a rise in gun violence in five areas: Marshall Court/Seven Oaks, the area around 26th and Chestnut, Dresden Drive, Old Courthouse Way and the Aqueduct Apartments.

“The concern is that the violent crime that’s going up,” Kelly added. “We are seeing so many instances where people resort to weapons to solve their differences.”

The task force will focus on hot spots for the rest of the year. They’ll also look for those pulling the trigger.

“Most of the people don’t live out here so I’m glad the police are starting this program,” Walker said. “I think it would be good for the community.”

The task force begins November 1 and will run through the rest of the year.

Newport News police are meeting with residents in the hot spots to let them know what’s happening. The next meetings are:

  • South Morrison Family Education Center, 746 Adams Dive: October 25 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Seven Oaks Apartments, 869 36th Street: October 26 at 5:00 p.m.
  • New Beech Grove Baptist Church, 326 Tabbs Lane: November 1 at 7:00 p.m.

Find more information about the meetings here.