Here’s how Norfolk’s top cop is planning to tackle gun violence in his city

Chief Larry Boone gave an update to the department's efforts on combating gun violence in his community. (Melanie Occhiuzzo/Southside Daily)
Chief Larry Boone gave an update to the department’s efforts on combating gun violence in his community. (Southside Daily)

NORFOLK — Police Chief Larry Boone said the biggest issue with the rise of gun violence in the city, and the nation, is not the people committing the violence but the lack of energy from the communities it affects.

Boone gave an update Friday on a recent string of homicides and malicious woundings across the city this past month, saying that while they were mostly isolated incidents they all had a common theme.

The victims and suspects almost always knew each other and after getting into some sort of altercation, the situation resulted in gunfire, Boone said.

In the past 24 hours starting at 9 p.m. on Thursday, there were reports of a triple shooting in the 3300 block of Lyons Avenue and then at 1:45 a.m. on Friday there was a double shooting in the 800 block of Granby Street.

A 39-year-old man is in custody in connection with the triple shooting, but a suspect is unknown for the double shooting, authorities said.

The systematic problem

The number of homicides in the city greatly impacts young, black males and it has become a public health issue, Boone said.

“The numbers are staggering,” he noted.

In Norfolk, the suspect, as well as the victim generally are black males, Boone said.

He put together some data on guns in the city from both 2017 and 2018.

There were 652 firearms recovered in Norfolk in 2018 and 71 of those firearms were reported stolen.

In 2017 there were 701 firearms recovered and 82 of those firearms were reported stolen, according to documents provided by the police department.

But, Boone is beyond just looking at the people committing the crimes — he’s now looking at the systems that create the situations where someone feels the need to shoot another person.

This problem targets young, black men ages 15 to 34, he said.

When he looks at the data in reference to both the suspects and victims, most of them never finished school, and they’re angry and they are having a very difficult time managing conflict.

“Their way of managing conflict is at the end of a gun,” Boone said.

Boone is working to assemble a public health panel as well as several strategic initiatives to tackle the systems that create gun violence.

He wants to gather judges, mental health professionals, lawyers, mentors and people from the school system to form a panel to discuss how to best handle the issue.

While Boone is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, he also sees the benefit in tracking people who’ve been convicted of violent crimes and making sure they don’t get a firearm. He also supports more gun legislation such as universal background checks.

Boone said he recognizes the impact poverty and constant violence can have on young people and sees those as contributing factors toward the rates of gun violence.

“What is bothering me personally is the lack of energy surrounding this issue. For whatever reasons, people will not galvanize surrounding this issue,” he said.

In the coming weeks the public will start to hear about the programs the police department will roll out to tackle gun violence in the community, Boone said.

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