Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett discusses crime in public housing complexes during Tuesday’s Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting. Increasing foot patrols of uniformed officers would enhance police efforts to make communities safer, he said.
Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett discusses crime in public housing complexes during Tuesday’s Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting. Increasing foot patrols of uniformed officers would enhance police efforts to make communities safer, he said.

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Police chief addresses public housing violence

Published 9:55pm Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Increasing foot patrols by uniformed officers would help fight violent crime in public housing, but they wouldn’t come cheap, Suffolk’s police chief reported to housing officials Tuesday.

Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority commissioners had invited Chief Thomas Bennett to discuss security in complexes, including Cypress Manor and Parker Riddick, after public concern over violent crime in those areas.

Directed patrols, in which a pair of uniformed police officers walk instead of ride through complexes, were introduced about two months ago in response to murders in Cypress Manor, Bennett said.

These patrols are occurring “fairly frequently,” but not every weekend, due to a lack of manpower, he said.

“They are able to check on things more thoroughly than just riding through in a car,” he said.

Other responses by police to the murders have included increasing intelligence efforts so officers know “who the players are and what they are doing,” Bennett said.

There has also been a no-tolerance approach to known offenders, which are placed on a “no trespassing” list banning their entry into complexes, he said.

“If we see them (inside complexes) again, there is no discussion — we arrest them,” he said.

He said police have also increased their focus on visitors to complexes, who are more likely to commit violent crime than residents.

“Doing some type of security at the complexes (in addition to the current foot patrols) would only enhance what we are trying to do,” Bennett said.

But the questions are “who does it, how do we do it and who pays for it,” he added.

Foot patrols are “probably needed” every weekend, Bennett said, adding, “Guards are better than nothing, but if you really want to make an impact — we are more expensive than guards, but we can get the job done. I think it would be a positive for everyone involved.”

Sending out two officers on a foot costs about $300 a night, Bennett said. The annual cost per community for two nights a week would be $31,000, Board Chairman Branch Lawson noted, asking if that would be an “effective use of money?”

“My people have said they have seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of general activity,” Bennett responded.

“When we go into a community and start letting our presence be known — more than usual — we will see a decrease.”

Any increase in foot patrols would be beneficial, he added.

Despite the discussion around stepping up patrols, Part I offenses on all SRHA properties have fallen 15 percent between 2010 and 2012, Bennett reported.

He said Suffolk is “very lucky,” noting the situation is much worse in Newport News, where he was previously deputy chief of police. “It’s a war zone in some of those places over there,” he said.

Clarissa McAdoo, the authority’s executive director, cited other efforts to reduce crime, including increasing ownership in the community through resident councils.

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  • KNRMCO

    Agreed….I hate my tax $$’s going to those looking for a handout. There needs to be a system whereby those who break/abuse the rules suffer a consequense.

    Suggest Removal

  • Banxs

    The best way to stop crime in Handout Housing is stop the handouts!

    It angers me that my tax dollars fund housing for drug dealer’s baby Mommas. You have others who feel it is a way of life. This helps support their drug habits because they don’t have to be concerned with coming up with full rent money.

    Tenants who abuse public housing out numbers those who it was intended for….the elderly and citizens who are truly in need.

    Public housing crime rates would reduce if you require drug testing and evict tenants who harbor people who are not on the lease.

    Another way to reduce crime in public housing is to place a zero tolerance. If a tenant is convicted of a crime or has a family member who is convicted of a crime that occurred on public housing property.. evict them. Perhaps our public school system can assist with educating SRHA with how to engage a zero tolerance policy.

    Public housing is a sanctuary for the criminal element that we spend way too many tax dollars supporting. Why should we the citizens of Suffolk fund more police presents in handout housing? Just get rid of the problems!

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    • So What

      Why is this Law enforcement issue falling at the feet of just the police department? am I missing something here? what are the deputies for? Its time to move forward as the Won says. Why cant the Sheriff and his crew protect and serve the public? The criminal element/society exceeds the civil element in the city…

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      • Lovebug

        What I want to know is WHY is their Director making three figures to do his job yet hes asking the police dept to do his job for him and they make WAY less than what he does. Its crazy to me how a man making that much money can’t figure out what to do.

        Suggest Removal

    • Savannah

      Banxs, you’ve hit the nail on the head!

      And..if I may add, for the love of people that have WORKED to live in their home, stop handing out Section 8 like candy and ruining our neighborhoods too!

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      • So What

        Let the local overlords AKA movers and shakers who run/manage these dwellings provide the security

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