Norfolk increases police patrols to deter crime in the city center

ByShannon J. Cortes

Mar 29, 2022

This comes the same month that five people were shot on Granby Street. Two of the victims – Sierra Jenkins and Devon Malik Harris, both 25 – died.

NORFOLK, Va. — The City of Norfolk has just shared its plans to quell violence in the city center.

This comes the same month that five people were shot on Granby Street. Two of the victims – Sierra Jenkins and Devon Malik Harris, both 25 – died. Norfolk City Manager Chip Filer presented those plans on Tuesday.

“The Norfolk Police Department has increased patrols and presence in the city’s entertainment districts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,” a city spokesperson wrote.

On top of that, there will also be a slew of unannounced visits from the Planning Department, Office of the Fire Marshal, Planning and Neighborhood Services, and the City Attorney’s Office.

At night, these agencies will stop by nightclubs and restaurants to provide “visibility”, make sure all businesses have the proper licenses, and make sure no city codes are violated.

“The purpose of this action plan is to build a system in which business owners, operators and the City of Norfolk share responsibility for creating a safe environment for everyone who lives, works and visits our restaurants and clubs. at night,” Filer said.

The city plans to continue random inspections for at least the next three months.

“You then build a relationship, whether it’s with the fire marshal or the police or the health department, so that you can work with them if you have any issues that need to be addressed,” said Baxter Simmons, owner of Baxter’s Sports. Bar and Lounge. .

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Some business owners see frequent check-ins as misdirected punishment. However, Simmons told 13News he doesn’t see a problem with it.

“They come to you to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” Simmons added. “If you’re operating the right way, maintaining your online capability and trying to manage your security as best you can, then you’re fine.”

Filer is seeking city council approval for $450,000 in funding to form a business compliance unit.

“The Compliance Unit is a necessary step towards our process of changing the brand, culture and image of downtown Norfolk,” Filer said.

Additionally, city leaders and stakeholders may choose to create a body that would manage the entertainment district, require security measures as part of conditional use permits, and change building occupancy based on the weather. and other conditions.

“The goal is to bring business owners and operators to a state where they are self-regulating, self-monitoring and self-governing, with the support of the city,” the announcement reads.

Joy Owens, who works in downtown Norfolk, told 13News Now she no longer comes to the high street at night due to violence and overcrowding.

“I just wonder if it will be safe for me or my sister, who I live with, to come downtown,” Owens said. “No one should be afraid to go out with their friends and eat a slice of pizza.”

Owens said it’s a relief to know the city is at least addressing the issue. She said if she started to see a difference after tighter security, she might be more willing to get out of the city center with her sister and friends.

RELATED: More police patrols in downtown Norfolk at the start of the weekend

Mike Kindle, owner of Bonaire Custom Clothiers and Coffee Bar, said the initial plan of action was good but could be made stronger with the regular assignment of at least two patrollers.

“Any day of the week, not Thursday, Friday, Saturday, there should be a presence here. Business owners and residents should know the police here,” Kindle said.

He suggested tougher policing and enforcement of other crimes, such as traffic or theft, to send a strong message, “that you have to be a law-abiding citizen or there will be consequences”.

Over the next two weeks, Norfolk city officials also plan to check business licenses and taxes.

Additionally, Filer mentioned the goal of outfitting downtown parking lots with all-new cameras by the end of the year.