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Walking Petersburg streets amid 'out of control' gun violence: 'I'm tired of seeing parents crying'

Posted at 2:10 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 14:21:50-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Deputy Petersburg Police Chief Emanuel Chambliss is worried about his community.

Petersburg, like many communities in Virginia around the nation, is experiencing an increase in gun-related violence and crime.

"So our gun violence has escalated. We don't know what the cause of the escalation is, but it has increased," Chambliss said while walking the streets with Bill Fitzgerald. "It's concerning to us. It's concerning to our citizens."

Chambliss, who has patrolled Petersburg for decades, said the recent violence was different from the drug-fueled violence of the 1980s and 1990s.

"What we're seeing now, I believe is worse than what we experienced back then," he said. "It seems like everyone has a gun out here and then not able to resolve their differences without picking up a gun. There's no more fistfights or anything like that."

The Petersburg native said he believed the gun violence in his hometown is out of control. One solution he and his fellow officers cite is help from the community, but getting crime-fighting tips is tough.

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"[People] tell us they're afraid. We've had officers approach people and they tell the officers to get off the property and not that nicely," he said. "Our witness [in one recent homicide] is the victim's cousin who won't come forward. They said they're not snitching."

The crime is not only impacting neighborhoods and the people who live there — but also the police sworn to serve and protect.

"Our guys are working around the clock. They're tired, we're tired. I'm tired of coming out and seeing dead bodies on the street. I'm tired of seeing parents crying because their child has been killed. Someone crying because they lost a loved one. I'm tired of seeing that hurt in those families' faces," Chambliss said.

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