Aug. 10, 2023 — New Police Chief Jimmie Wideman updated City Council on crime in the city on Wednesday night, describing steps the Hampton Police Division will take to address a rise in violent crime that mirrors national trends. After a 4.7% decrease in violent crimes from 2021-2022, crime so far in 2023 is increasing.
"Post Covid, violence has escalated exponentially” across the nation, Wideman said. There have been 24% more homicides in the United States during the first half of 2023 than in the same time period in 2019, according to the Council on Criminal Justice.
In Hampton, there have been five more homicides in the first six months of 2023 than in the same period last year, which amounts to a 38% increase.
Most violent crimes “are among people who are known to each other, not random crimes out when you’re walking your dog,” Wideman said. “Random violence against innocent parties or random citizens is infrequent.”
Wideman says his department will create two community response teams to work different parts of the city and focus on community policing and crime reduction. In particular, they will focus on guns, gangs, drugs, violent crime hot spots, and known violent offenders.
Hampton continues to have lower crime than most of our neighboring localities, Wideman said. Of the seven urban cities, Hampton was second-lowest (after Suffolk) in total serious crimes per capita in 2022. Hampton was also second-lowest in violent crime (after Virginia Beach) with 1.4 violent crimes per 1,000 people.
Other crime trends include car theft, which has been rising nationally. In particular, makers of both Kia and Hyundai are working to develop and provide new anti-theft software after videos on social media showed how to exploit a design flaw to steal the cars. Wideman urged owners of those vehicles to see their dealer for the software update as soon as possible.
Police have been digging into the crime statistics to spot trends. Larceny — theft of property — accounts for more than 75% of all serious crimes (Part 1 offenses). That is concentrated in two places: Nearly 40% is theft (shoplifting) from an ABC store, and another 22% is items taken from cars. Police recommend not leaving valuables in your car and always keeping it locked.
Wideman noted that most gun crimes are committed by adults between the ages of 18 and 30. Prevention programs by the Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities, police, and other agencies work to identify at an early age those likely to commit crimes or be victims. “We are hoping to get them in middle school or high school before they get recruited into social groups or gangs,” Wideman said.