July 11, 2018 - Serious crimes in Hampton saw declines in 2017, according to end-of-the-year data. Both violent crimes and property crimes decreased.
Prior to 2017, the city – like much of the nation – had seen two to three years of increases in serious crimes, those reported as “Part 1 offenses” under FBI crime reporting guidelines. The 4 percent decrease in property crimes marked 2017 as the year with fewest serious property crimes in more than 15 years. Violent crimes declined by 2 percent but remained above the city’s 15-year average.
“We are seeing some significant improvements in those Type 1 offenses,” Police Chief Terry Sult said. The drop in overall crime is even larger for the first six months of 2018 vs. 2017, Sult told City Council today. All of that decline is in property crimes, he said, as the city continues to combat influences from national and local gangs.
The reductions in property crimes are significant, said Sult, because many of the firearms reported stolen come from cars. Reducing those crimes helps reduce the number of stolen guns on the street.
The problems are regional. In fact, Hampton’s overall crime rate is in the middle of surrounding cities in Hampton Roads – higher than Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Suffolk but lower than Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
“When you look at violent crime, we are the third safest of the seven cities. That’s moving in the right direction,” Sult said. In fact, Sult noted that national gangs, chiefly in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., have influences in the region. Regional gangs operate across city boundaries or have local affiliates. And, increasingly, females have become more involved in gang crimes.
Hampton has a two-pronged approach, battling some of the root causes that make gangs attractive to young people: low self-esteem, entrenched poverty and insufficient involvement with parents or other adults. The city’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities, meanwhile, coordinates programs that offer activities, employment and mentoring.
On the criminal side, Sult and other police officials noted that Hampton has a task force focused on gun crimes and gang. Task force efforts include:
- Partnership with the commonwealth’s attorney to create strong cases for prosecution
- Prosecuting cases of conspiracy, utilizing grand juries
- Regional efforts to track crimes across city lines
- Creating centralized gun crime and gang unit
- Collaboration with federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms officer
- Increased analysis of crime trends, shifting enforcement to key areas experiencing high crimes
- Quick turnaround on ballistics and identifying guns used in repeat crimes
- Use of fully trained auxiliary police who volunteer 12 hours a month to provide increased patrols
Offenses included as violent crimes are criminal homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assault; property crimes are burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.