NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Crime numbers dipped heavily in Norfolk in 2017, reaching numbers not seen since the start of the millennium, according to the Norfolk Police Department.
2017 saw a 19 percent reduction in violent crimes reported compared to 2016, down to 1,194 from 1,481.
Though that number may seem like a regression toward to mean after a particularly violent 2016, Norfolk police say the mark is also the lowest total number of violent crimes reported in a year since 2000.
According to police records there were 48 homicides in 2016 and 34 in 2017. Rape was down 9 percent, robberies went down 24 percent and aggravated assault cases dropped 18 percent.
“How many of those were in a house, in a garage? It’s not like someone is running up and down the street shooting people,” said Norfolk Police Chief Larry D. Boone. “I will also say this, I can say this regarding homicides, emphatically regarding homicides in the city of Norfolk. There are very, very, very, if any, stranger on stranger homicides. The suspect as well as the victim, 9 times out of 10, knew each other.”
The chief said it comes down to several aspects: more gang arrests, a partnership between local churches and the police department, their 25 outreach programs and more trust between police and the community.
“We currently have a 74 percent clearence rate with our homicides, we aren’t Perry Masons, that’s people helping us, that’s people willing to talk to us.”
“We are in the red zone, we aren’t ready to spike the ball just yet. So, we have a lot of work to do. And when I say we, it’s not just on the police, it’s on the community, the church, city government, schools, the media, everybody has skin in the game.”
Property crimes (burglary, larceny, etc.) also were at a 17-year low, police say. The total number of crimes was 9,192 compared to 10,522 in 2016 — a 13 percent decrease. Police say that’s the largest one-year reduction since 2006.
Boone told 10 On Your Side back in April that a proactive approach to policing has helped in reducing crime.
“We’ve identified areas of concentrated criminal activity and allocated resources for those specific areas,” Boone. said “We cannot allow the few people engaged in criminal activity to steal from our community members their sense of safety and welfare.”
“Any major city, urban setting where there is poverty, that’s generally, but not always, that’s generally where police spend the bulk of their time.”
Even though the statistics are encouraging, Boone says more can be done.
“Despite these numbers, we as a City still have a lot of work to do; however, I am pleased in the direction we are going. As we move forward into 2018, we will continue to strengthen our community relationships, emphasizing the shared responsibility on the safety of our City. I am honored to be the Chief of Police of this department and I am proud of my team and the community who have all played a part in keeping Norfolk safe.”