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The original item was published from 1/5/2017 3:44:39 PM to 1/5/2017 3:52:57 PM.

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* Hampton City News

Posted on: January 5, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Police chief, prosecutors, talk about continuing gun violence in Hampton, Hampton Roads


Jan. 5, 2017 - Flanked by the mayor, city manager, commonwealth's attorney and an assistant U.S. attorney, Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult held a news conference Thursday afternoon where he talked about the city's increase in violent crime and the need to adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to battling the problem.

Among the solutions noted by the chief:

  •  Doubling the size of the current gun crime task force.
  • Using technology to do smarter policing by creating a "real-time" intelligence and information center at City Hall.
  • Putting more officers on the street.
  • Embracing better communication between the public and private security efforts.
  • Continuing to work with Newport News police in joint policing efforts, especially along the border between the two cities.

"It shouldn't matter who's responding as long as we're helping citizens in need," Sult said.

The police chief, Commonwealth's Attorney Anton Bell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Zlotnick all spoke about cracking down on any and all gun crimes. Bell noted that "gun violence is a national issues, not just a local issue," and Zlotnick highlighting the different and sometimes stiffer criminal penalties available under federal law. 

While the city's gun crime task force was created last year, the press conference came in the wake of an exchange of gunfire on Big Bethel Road that hit a grandfather teaching his grandchild to drive in the parking lot at Bethel High School. Suspects are in custody in that shooting, police said.

Sult, while expressing his frustration with the continuing gun violence, also spoke about a need to address the lack of opportunity for young people and the current culture that breeds and often accepts gun violence. "It is the community pulling together that will resolve this issue," he said. "If you see something you have to say something."

Sult noted that efforts involve many departments and community resources that offer prevention and intervention services. His message to young people in the city: “If you want to make the choice of picking up a gun and committing a crime, we’re coming after you. If you want to turn your life around, we’ll help you.”

A video of the news conference is available on the city's Facebook page.


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