Stopping the Violence in Westhaven

By: Lisa Ferrari Email
By: Lisa Ferrari Email

October 12, 2007

Police are looking for suspects in yet another shooting on Hardy Drive. This one happened Thursday night.

With several violent acts at the Westhaven apartment complex recently, we asked what's being done to make this community safer.

It's not an easy solution, but some ideas being discussed include installing surveillance cameras and giving police the authority to arrest people for trespassing. But not everyone likes these ideas.

With a shooting last night, a stabbing less than two weeks ago, another shooting in September and a murder in June, residents want to know what's being done to stop the violence.

“The concerns are legitimate, and one we have to be aggressive in responding to,” said Charlottesville police chief Tim Longo.

Police have stepped up foot patrols late at night. Other solutions being discussed are already happening at other public housing complexes in the city, just not at Westhaven. So we asked why. The housing authority says private security guards would too expensive.

“Security guards at Westhaven, with so many entry points, is really not feasible short of an enormous cost,” said Housing Authority executive director Noah Schwartz.

Surveillance cameras another option, but Schwartz says there are some questions, such as whether it will deter crime, if it actually will affect the crime rate, and if there are different ways to get at that issue for less expense, he said.

Residents in Westhaven have said they don't want cameras pointed at them. They think those causing the trouble don't live in the apartments. That's why another possible solution is to give police the authority to enforce trespassing laws, but would that help?

“[People] walk onto our property and commit a crime and walk out. All the trespass authority isn't going to do anything about it,” said Schwartz.

Whatever they decide, it will be a collaborative effort between the city, police and the people who live there.

Despite recent violence, the calls for service and reported crime in that community have gone down since last year.

The victim from the shooting last night remains in serious condition. Police say they have little information about who shot him. If you can help, call Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000.

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