MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Martinsville was No. 1 in the state for overdoses per capita in January, but now there's some positive news. The police department says 2016 saw a drop in crime in the city.
Martinsville had the lowest amount of violent crime incidents in 2016 than they have in more than 10 years. The police department attributes that to a change in their approach to the community.
Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn says all of the members of his department are dedicated to making Martinsville a better place. He says the department couldn't fight crime without the help of citizens.
"Our citizens here telling us where there's an issue, telling us where there's a problem going on, trusting us, confiding in us, bringing it to our attention those things that are affecting their quality of life," Dunn said.
He stresses the importance of community policing.
"We want them in the neighborhoods as much as possible. I think it's reflective for their calls for service that our officers are working very hard. They're staying in the community. They're staying in the neighborhoods. They're really doing a fantastic job," Dunn said.
Martinsville police say the most effective part of community policing is actually getting out of their cars, going up to doors and actually talking to citizens.
"It's almost just like I'm just one of the neighbors that I'm out here so much. They see me. They wave," Officer L.C. Jones said.
Violent crime was down 51 percent from 56 incidents in 2015 to 28 incidents in 2016. The chief says that's due to community engagement.
"More bike patrols out there. More bike officers out there. You'll see more officers positively engaging with citizens," Dunn said.
The officers say talking with citizens makes their job more enjoyable.
"People are so welcoming that they actually have an officer in the neighborhood and there's no trouble, nothing going on for the officer to be there, just that he wants to be there," Jones said.
The chief says they will continue fighting the most recent opioid problem. He believes by fighting that, they will also fight the violent crime.