Hampton police launching task force to fight violent crime

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HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Chief Terry Sult told city council Wednesday that the police division is standing up against violent crime by launching a gun crime task force.

Sult said violent crime has been down year-to-date, but a recent spike has reversed that.

Sult announced plans to shift resources and “be professionally aggressive in enforcement,” targeting “those who do harm with handguns and illegal firearms.”

The police chief said outreach is crucial.

“We need to do community outreach in those neighborhoods with gun crimes and work with Neighborhood Watch and faith and community leaders. At the end of the day, some of our crimes don’t get solved because people aren’t talking to us.”

Police say tips are key to help track down suspects, and on top of that, crime analysis and additional police work can build a case and lead to an arrest. Sult said there needs to be focus on:

  • Better crime analysis, which may require additional technology.
  • Use of overtime to add resources, while hiring and training additional officers.
  • Better case preparation and closer relationships with local and federal prosecutors to gain more convictions.

City Manager Mary Bunting asked Chief Sult to present his plan and come back to the council with budget adjustments to support the efforts. Council members indicated strong support.

Bunting said enhanced law enforcement is just one of the city’s short-term measures to reduce crime. Long-term, she said, “Solving gun violence is a community issue, a society issue” and not something the government can do alone.

Bunting said the city supports efforts to work with at-risk youth and enhance employment programs.