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The Danville Police Department on Friday announced the full-scale reactivation of its Street Crimes Unit. The move is in response to the unusual number of firearm related incidents resulting in injury or death that have occurred in the last month.
Those incidents were as follows:
• April 11: North Union Street murder – result of a personal confrontation between two men who knew each other - arrest made – second murder of the year• April 25: Shooting on College Park Drive – victim refused to prosecute neighbor who shot him over a dispute about a broken beer bottle• April 26: Uninvolved and innocent Register and Bee employee injured by broken glass from bullets fired at his vehicle – apparently by mistake as a result of an earlier violent confrontation between gang members and the seizure of an assault weapon by officers• April 28: A man reported he was shot in the foot during a robbery while he was walking at 12:20 a.m. in the North Main Street area• May 1: A woman received a bullet wound during an argument at 5:30 a.m. on Barrett Street, although she claimed it happened at a bar in North Carolina• May 3: Two men shot and killed in the 300 block of Hughes Street – third and fourth murders of the year• May 5: Attempted robbery and shooting of taxi driver on Myrtle Avenue.
“We do not believe that these incidents are related,” Police Chief Philip Broadfoot said at a news conference on Friday. “In at least four of the incidents, the victim and assailant knew each other.
“Regardless of the facts of the incidents, the bottom line is that the citizens of Danville need to feel safe as they travel the streets and walk the sidewalks in their neighborhoods. To reestablish that confidence, we are announcing the full-scale reactivation of the focused effort of the Street Crimes Unit.”
Broadfoot said the Street Crimes Unit was initially formed in 2010 to address similar violence problems in the city and it was extremely successful. The unit’s operations were scaled back in the summer of 2014 as a result of the national discussion about police and the community that began after the incident in Ferguson, Missouri.
Since then, the unit has operated at a reduced level.
“The recent firearm related incidents demand that we return the unit to its original strength and purpose,” Broadfoot said. “To that end, I have ordered my staff to make the necessary personnel adjustments and equipment assignments to accomplish that task.
“This does not mean we have abandoned or will neglect the community policing efforts we have always employed or are planning to begin. A safe community requires both a strong enforcement and a strong community policing effort to suppress crime. We are committed to making both of these efforts work.”
Broadfoot said the Police Department is working closely with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to implement various programs and trainings and will be holding community meetings in the next several weeks to explain the department’s efforts and to solicit input on how to reduce the violence.
“We are confident we can positively impact the rate of violence before the long days of summer arrive,” Broadfoot said.