Newport News police task force arrests 54 in March

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Dozens of violent suspects are off the streets of Newport News and police believe it’s the direct result of a new task force.

The Violent Crime Reduction Team started officially in February, but its first full month of March has already shown a level of success.

In his “Keeping Newport News Safe” update, Chief Richard Myers said the 54 arrests in March show half the picture. The other half is how bringing in the most violent offenders brought down shootings and got drugs off the streets.

“150 felony charges arising out of a relatively small unit, for one month, is pretty impressive,” Myers said.

The task force started in November as an experiment in cutting crime.

“The results were very encouraging, and convinced us that we needed to continue that approach,” Myers explained. “They are going after the dangerous people that prey on our community. While small in number, they have a large impact.”

That impact, he could show in two areas — in the drug trade and in violent crime.

The task force has helped to seize $45,000 worth of drugs.

“It’s naive to think that some of these most dangerous players out in our community aren’t also involved in drug trafficking,” the chief said.

Compared to this point last year, the city has reduced shootings from 31 to 25 — all encouraging signs.

“We are gonna stay optimistic, but I also think we need to stay extremely vigilant,” Myers said. “[We will be] keeping our resources focused on the most dangerous people.”

Myers said it’ll take more than a snapshot of a month to see how effectively the task force brings down crime in Newport News.