HOPEWELL, Va. -- The escalated gun violence in the city of Hopewell has left many who live and work there afraid with Hopewell Police feeling overwhelmed at times from all the violence.
The death of a six-year-old girl and a double murder in Hopewell have left members of the community on edge.
Sheriff Travis Stanley, who took office just one year ago, is having some of his deputies not only help patrol the city but also respond to calls to augment police officers.
In downtown Hopewell, Hopewell Sheriff's Deputy Taylor Reedy is out opening doors and engaging those inside. It's one way that Stanley is keeping law enforcement officers in plain sight.
"I've got a deputy assigned to patrol in the city, primarily in the downtown business district. He also patrols the hot zones. I will also put some of the part-time deputies off of 295 and have them patrol in town," Stanley said.
Stanley has lived most of his life in Hopewell so he allows qualified deputies to answer calls for the police department when needed.
"The safety of the city is paramount and at this point, I've lived here my entire life and I've never seen the city this bad. We're here to help them in any way that they ask in whatever way they need," Stanley said.
Stanley remembers well the night a six-year-old was shot and killed in Hopewell less than a month ago.
"We took patrol duties in the city during that time, myself and three of my deputies stayed out answering calls for service until about 10 p.m. that Friday night," Stanley said.
Being able to see law enforcement helps to bring some peace to those who work in downtown Hopewell.
"With them being seen walking around downtown, it shows that there's some kind of law enforcement down here," Ann Audrey Eliades Kirk, a downtown business owner, said.
"We think it's a great idea for the sheriff to be involved and help the police department in any way they can," Elliot Eliades, who lives in Hopewell, said.
However, he believes that something needs to be done to end the gun violence.
"The town's been here over 100 years and we've survived many things and we will survive this. But somebody's got to be in charge down here and come up with a plan and execute that plan soon," Eliades said.
The sheriff said he has one deputy now doing field training with the Hopewell Police Department. When completed, that deputy will also be able to patrol the city.
The sheriff said that his department also offers free of charge concealed carry classes. Last year, more than 300 people signed up to take the course.