Newport News, Va. – Shaundra Newby is one of about ten security officers taking action to assist police and take back the streets of Newport News.
“I’ve noticed that as soon as my car comes up, they scatter,” she says. “I’m serious about this job. I take it very serious.”
They all work for New Hope Security Company, a private business that reached out to police to find a way to help.
On foot and in marked cars, the security officers patrol the East End of the city from 39th street to the river. It’s an area typically riddled with criminal activity.
“The more eyes and the more ears we have out there the better we can do our job,” says Newport News Police officer Capt. Keith Hartman.
Some of the security officers are legally armed, however Hartman says their job is only to observe. Up until now, he says there have been no issues.
“I know that they’ve called the police dispatch to let them know so far what they’ve observed,” Capt. Hartman says. “So far so good.”
Newby says just their presence has had an impact.
“Definitely if I go park in that parking lot over there they’ll be gone within a few minutes because they don’t like being watched,” she says.
In the three weeks since the patrols have started, police say they have noticed a decrease in violent crime. Neighbors say they can definitely see a difference.”
“It’s been peaceful,” says Nicole, who lives on Ivy Ave. “It’s been extremely peaceful. You can feel like you don’t have to worry about your concrete getting shot or having someone standing in your backyard with a gun. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
“People are honking their horns at me and waving and saying thank you,” Newby says.