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Violent crime is down in Petersburg despite less police

Posted at 5:34 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 19:39:50-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Open for less than a week, Steven Anderson said he believed his store has a bright future in downtown Petersburg.

One reason Anderson said he felt confident was the job Petersburg Police have done to patrol the area.

“Safety was the first thing that I looked at," Steven Anderson said. “So I feel confident enough to open up a business here and put my family in here and I would never put them in harm's way."

While the number of Petersburg Police Officers is down, so is the violent crime.

“Our overall violent crime has decreased by 26 percent," Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian said. “Last year this time, we had six [murders]. [This year] we have one."

While crime stats rose in 2020, including a record number of murders, so far in 2021 Chief Christian said crime has gone in the opposite direction.

“We’ve seen a decrease in our robberies, a reduction of 11 percent," he said.

Chief Christian said one reason behind the decline in crime was that the department had quickly moved resources when needed.

“We’ve changed how we deploy our people," he said.

While the number of officers is down about 25 percent, they’re now working 12-hour shifts.

“I’ll say aggressively we’ve been going out, engaging those individuals who’ve chosen to come here and just be disruptive," the chief said.

“I believe it’s gotten better, people feeling a little bit safer when they know they have police presence around," Petersburg resident Rob Truly said.

“If you’re not having communication with the police that are policing the area, then you’re not part of the solution," Anderson added.

Chief Christian said one area where the stats were up was calls to 9-1-1.

The Chief said citizens are paying more attention to their community and calling when they see something wrong, which in turn is helping keep crime down.