Norfolk Has a Crime Problem

by Kerry Dougherty

It was a fabulous moment in Norfolk. On Friday night Old Dominion University clinched ANOTHER football victory over Virginia Tech, this one in the last minute of play. When the final whistle blew the ecstatic fans poured out of the stands and onto the field.

One of the TV commentators gazed at the happy celebration said something like, “Can you imagine the bars in Norfolk tonight?’

Yes, I can, I thought to myself. I hope no one gets shot.

No one did get shot. That night. By Monday morning, two people would be shot dead at a house party blocks away from the ODU campus.

That’s the kind of lawless place Norfolk has become. A spate of shootings on Granby Street caused the city to close bars there early and threaten business owners with closure if they can’t control the customers they serve.

By Saturday afternoon we learned that Hokie players reported about $8,000 worth of personal items stolen from the visitors’ locker room during the game.

Good grief.

How hard is it to keep thieves out of the locker room while the players are on the field?

“I know everyone wants to say, ‘Well, it’s the world we live in now,’ “(ODU Coach Ricky) Rahne told The Virginian-Pilot. “First of all, there’s been crime for a long time. I think we’re going on a good 10,000-year streak of crime at this point. So I don’t think that it’s a new thing. I wish, obviously, that it wouldn’t have happened because I think it detracted from some very special things that happened in this community.

“But these type of things, unfortunately, occur. You wish that people wouldn’t take advantage of situations like this, but this is what happens. I know our university is working hard to come up with a solution on this sort of thing, and I’ll leave that one to the experts.”

I have a solution. Place guards on the locker room doors during the game. Problem solved.

This “10,000-year crime streak” gibberish is inadequate. ODU athletics should have stroked a check for eight grand that same day and put it in the mail, along with a profound apology to the ACC team that traveled more than 300 miles to open their season in Norfolk.

Then, on Monday morning we learned that 14 people were shot in Norfolk Sunday night, nine of them at a house party in the 5000 block of Killam Avenue, very near ODU. Two of those victims died. One was a Norfolk State University student.

Let’s not sugar coat it: Norfolk has an out-of-control crime problem, driven largely by gang activity. And it’s getting worse. At the same time, the city recently reported an “historic high” number of vacancies in the Norfolk Police Department. Last time I checked, there were 193 sworn officer positions vacant.

How does a city fight crime with an anemic police force?

On Monday the police chief and mayor held a press conference.

“As children return to school, we must ensure that their communities and lives are free from chaos,” (Mayor Kenny) Alexander said, according to The Washington Post. “Students who enrolled in our colleges and universities deserve safe environments to live, learn and build their futures.”

He’s right. We need police to blanket the areas around ODU and NSU to protect students. Of course, there aren’t enough officers to do this.

Look, these universities belong to all of us. No one knows just how many excellent students decided to attend college elsewhere because of the high-crime neighborhoods that surround the Norfolk campuses.

While the locker room theft wasn’t a violent crime, it marred a terrific home-opener football victory.

ODU needs to make this right.

More importantly, Norfolk needs to make sure its universities are insulated from the rough neighborhoods that surround them.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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18 responses to “Norfolk Has a Crime Problem”

  1. vicnicholls Avatar

    Y’all just figured out Norfolk has a crime problem?

    1. James Kiser Avatar
      James Kiser

      LOL if they locked up all the black youth between 8-60 that would reduce crime by 99%

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        This has got to be the most racist comment that has appeared on this blog.

        For your information, according to the latest Virginia State Police report, 110,333 Whites were arrested in 2021; that constituted 59 percent of all arrests. The Department of Corrections reports that, as of 6/30/2021, approximately 12,600 Whites were confined in state prisons.

        1. James Kiser Avatar
          James Kiser

          well Dick I see the vast majority of crimes in Norfolk are committed by black youth. Crime in Chicago black youth, crime in all major cities is committed by black youth. It is amazing to me when you point out that that vast majority of violent crime is done by black youth. Don’t like them apples don’t poke in the barrel. I know quite a few people of all races commit crime but in the major cities it is black youth. Even Jesse Jackson said this years ago and it hasn’t changed.

      2. vicnicholls Avatar

        Uh … 8-60? Youth thinking maybe 25 since last I recall that was the age of most criminal behaviors in that range.

  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    With all the new ways colleges can (and will have to) compensate their football players, robbing the locker rooms may become more lucrative….probably some pretty amazing cars in the lot, too.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      VT’s revenge will be to SWAT the ODU locker room next time they meet. Geez that bungled field goal and 4 interceptions? The Hokies would have lost to Hampden Syndney that day.

  3. Kathleen Smith Avatar
    Kathleen Smith

    It is not just Norfolk, it is many places, including its neighbor Virginia Beach. I agree, guards at the door would have helped. I graduated from ODU in 74-75 and there was crime then. I’m not saying it makes it right, but ODU is housed on a small campus with a big population and much of that population doesn’t live on the campus. Like VCU, students are spread far and wide. Couple that with the US Naval bases and regular inner city type crime, you are asking for a lot from a police force.

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    C. P. Shuckers.

  5. Do either ODU or NSU have campus police who are trained, sworn police officers, not just glorified security guards?

    1. vicnicholls Avatar


  6. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    So, Kerry’s conclusion is “Norfolk needs to make sure its universities are insulated from the rough neighborhoods that surround them.”

    But, wait a minute. That shooting was at a house party near the ODU campus. According to media reports, two people were killed and five more injured. One of those killed was a NSU student and the wounded included college students. It seems that, rather than insulating the universities, the neighborhood should be insulated from the universities.

    1. Was the shooter a college student?

      If not, then aren’t you blaming the victims?

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        From the news reports, there could have been more than one shooter. There were lots of guns in the house. According to the police spokesman, a fight broke out and somebody grabbed a gun and started shooting.

        According to neighbors, ” parties are common in the neighborhood when college students are back on campus. They rent those out like that. So it is literally a flux of people coming in and out,” Wood said. “People will rent those just to have parties.”

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Dick, as a former Fan resident who watched whole blocks swallowed by VCU, I second the motion! And Wayne, some of the school police are sworn law enforcement officers (LEOs) and some special conservators of the peace (SCOPs). If they use a private vendor, probably still at least SCOPs.

      1. Thanks.

    3. vicnicholls Avatar

      ODU campus is right next to some dangerous areas. I do mean right across the street.

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