Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Ira Quillen
Bedford,VA- Bedford Police say the small city has seen an increase in violent crime this year compared to last year. State police are monitoring the numbers and want to see how the city will handle them.
The City of Bedford has been hit by job losses and poverty for some time. Police believe this may be fueling the increase in violent crime, and they have a plan of action to fight these numbers.
Captain Jim Bennett has spent a lot of time analyzing the yearly crime numbers.
"When we see an increase or spike in crime, we want to address that. We don't want to put a bandage on it. We want to eliminate it," said Bennett.
The crime numbers show a 12% increase in violent crime in the city. That's everything from sexual assault and burglary to larceny. Bennett says the numbers didn't get this way overnight. City cutbacks have taken more officers off the streets.
"We did a study, and we're averaging about three officers a shift right now. It used to be we had four," said Bennett.
If you take a quick ride around Bedford, you can see how much big industry has left. Bennett says this has added to a depressed economy, and pushed up crime numbers. But City Manager Charles Kolakowski expects that to turn around.
"It has certainly gotten better in the past year and half. Unemployment is down significantly. It's still higher than we want it to be. But there are businesses here that are hiring," said Kolakowski.
In the meantime, police have a plan of action. Bennett says more bike patrols will be on the streets in high crime areas, and they plan to be more visible with traffic patrols.
"If you got a traffic stop everybody around you gets a warning. If you stop someone in a high crime area all the bad guys get a warning that the cops are out here they mean business," said Bennett.
Police say residents can help bring these numbers down by being more vigilant. Bennett encourages residents to be proactive in reporting suspicious activity. He also encourages residents to get involved in the police neighborhood watch programs.