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Amid murders, Hopewell launches task force to try to curb violence: 'Citizens should feel comfort'

Posted at 4:15 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 17:37:27-05

HOPEWELL, Va. -- Hours after the City of Hopewell had its fourth murder in a matter of weeks, the city's police chief announced new changes to try and curb the violence taking over the city.

"We've experienced four homicides in a period of 23 days of this new year," Hopewell Police Chief A.J. Starke said.

Police said 26-year-old Teandre Taylor became the city's last victim of gun violence after he was shot at an intersection early Monday morning.

"We have experienced an uptick in violent crime and what we are seeing is disturbing," Starke said. "We want the criminals and our citizens to know that they can no longer do that."

Hours after Taylor's death, Hopewell Police, the Hopewell Sheriff's Office, the Virginia State Police and the Hopewell Commonwealth's Attorney announced the Violent Crime Task Force. Starke said citizens would see a difference in how safety is handled.

"Executing search warrants to hunting or searching for violent offenders. In addition to that, we are going to be strict in our traffic laws as well," Starke said.

Captain Norman Gray with VSP said troopers won't just be in blue and gray SUVs.

"There will be individuals that will be working at a capacity behind the scenes so they'll be there. Citizens may not know but citizens should feel comfort that they're there," Gray said.

The Hopewell Sheriff will continue to have his certified deputies patrolling Hopewell to assist the police.

Rick Newman, the Commonwealth's Attorney, said even with more law enforcement officers on the streets, they can't take on this challenge alone, knowing that people do know who is pulling the triggers.

"As far as I'm concerned, the individual that knows and has not come forward is just as guilty as the sick individual that killed that poor child," Newman said.

The Violent Crime Task Force will kick off this week, with all involved saying the public
will now see more law enforcement officers in the city.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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