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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


~ Comprehensive grant-funded effort will support evidence-based violence prevention practices and build on community's current efforts ~

NORFOLK (October 21, 2014)--Today, Attorney General Mark R. Herring, Congressman Bobby Scott, and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim announced a $1 million cooperative effort between local, state, and federal partners to reduce gun and gang violence in the City of Norfolk. The effort will be supported by a $500,000 federal grant from the Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction Program and $500,000 of asset forfeiture funds, meaning the funds to fight crime will come from criminals, not from taxpayers. The grant will bring together the Office of Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Norfolk Police Department, and the Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney's Office to reduce gun and gang violence through strategic prosecutions and data-driven policing strategies, along with an extensive, community-based outreach, education, and prevention effort.


"Gun violence and gang violence have claimed the lives of too many Virginians, many of them young people," said Attorney General Herring. "This smart, community-based approach to reducing violent crime has proven effective in neighborhoods across the Commonwealth and across the country, and we believe that this coordinated effort will produce results for Norfolk by building on the great work already being done. Through education and engagement, as well as smart, effective law enforcement and prosecution strategies, we're going to keep young people from ever getting involved with gangs or guns, and we'll make it clear that we will not accept violence in the City of Norfolk."


"Successfully reducing and eliminating gun and gang violence requires communities coming together to develop a comprehensive, evidenced-based prevention and early intervention plan," said Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott. "All the credible research shows that a continuum of comprehensive, evidenced-based prevention and intervention programs for youth at risk of, or involved in, delinquent behavior will greatly reduce crime and save much more than they cost when the avoided law enforcement and social welfare expenditures are considered. I commend Norfolk and its partners for taking a community-based approach to addressing youth violence."


"Gun violence is a local issue and it is most effectively addressed at the local level," said Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim. "I want to thank the Attorney General for making this grant available to Norfolk."


The effort to reduce gun and gang violence will be led by a community outreach coordinator who will build on the existing crime prevention and community engagement efforts of the Norfolk Police Department and Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Underwood. The coordinator will work with  local government, social service providers, neighborhood leaders, members of the faith community, non-profit organizations, business leaders, educators, and health care providers to promote a deterrent message to at-risk youth and would-be criminals stressing the consequences of gang and gun violence. At the same time, the partnership will promote educational and employment alternatives, intervention and prevention, and ex-offender reentry services. Outreach will include a broad advertising and marketing campaign that will emphasize the consequences of gang activity and illegally possessing firearms. The community outreach coordinator is expected to work out of Norfolk's Berkley Neighborhood Multi-Service Center.


New law enforcement resources and strategies will also be brought to Norfolk, including the addition of two prosecutors for the region who will each have cross-designations as both Assistant Attorneys General and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys. One will be assigned to the U.S. Attorney's Office  and the other to the Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, allowing for serious gun or gang cases to be brought in state or federal court. Other strategies will include:

  • Enhanced capacity for prosecutions of serious gun and gang crimes at the state and federal level, and enhanced sentences for the most dangerous gun crimes; 
  • Funding of directed community patrols based on data about gang and gun violence;
  • Specialized training of local law enforcement personnel on gun crime investigations and related issues;
  • Training of prosecutors by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Office of Attorney General on effective prosecution of gun and gang cases;
  • Arrests of fugitives and high-profile violent criminals in neighborhoods;
  • Improved inter-agency communication and intra-agency communication.

The partners will work with the grant's research partner, The Urban Institute, a non-profit research and policy organization with extensive experience on crime reduction projects, to monitor progress towards achieving crime reduction goals, including:

  • Reducing homicides committed with a firearm,
  • Reducing the combined number of homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies with a firearm
  • Reducing gang-related homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies
  • Maintaining strong conviction rates for those who commit gun or gang crimes.

In 2012, three-quarters of homicides in Norfolk were committed with a firearm, and more than 40% of all violent crime involved a firearm. The Norfolk Gang Task Force estimates that gang activity is responsible for approximately 18% of homicides, 22% of aggravated assaults, and 15% of all other violent crimes.


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