Lynchburg Police push more resources into streets following recent shootings

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 9:23 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - In light of a wave of violence across the Lynchburg community this month, the Lynchburg Police Department held a news conference outlining how it is responding.

“What we are seeing is an utter lack of regard for human life. This is not acceptable,” said Police Chief Ryan Zuidema.

The Lynchburg community has been shaken by violence this month, including three shootings this week in which three people were injured. But Friday, LPD sent a strong message.

“We want to be very clear; if you are involved in criminal activity in our community it’s going to become very uncomfortable for you. We are actively seeking you out, we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

Zuidema said LPD will be doing this by pushing more of its resources out into the streets.

“We will be reallocating resources from throughout our department to our patrol function. This is gonna allow us to be more proactive as a department and less reactive. The community will see more officers in uniform, which we think is a good thing. And we’ll also make sure we’re shifting the focus of other units throughout the department to ensure consistent efforts across the violent crime front. We will continue to partner with our local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, which we have had longstanding relationships for many, many years on all those levels.”

Zuidema said LPD can’t do this on its own; it will take everyone.

“We need cooperation from both witnesses and victims. Very honestly, we have many crimes where we know we have witnesses to those crimes, that those individuals don’t want to come forward. A lot of times I think what happens is folks think they’re protecting their loved ones who are juveniles or adults. By not coming forward in reality, you may actually be doing just the opposite; you may be putting that individual’s life in danger.”

Zuidema asked the community’s help in recruiting offers for LPD, which will help address staffing shortages. He is also encouraging residents to lock their cars and make sure they are being responsible gun owners.

“In many cases, a lot of the folks that are involved in violent crime in our community are stealing these vehicles to go perpetrate violent crime and then ditching them and then stealing other vehicles to further perpetrate other crimes. We also need folks to remove guns from your vehicles; don’t leave them in there. You’re seeing a significant number of firearms stolen in our community.”

LPD is investigating whether these shootings are gang-related, but cannot say that’s a definite. But Zuidema said gangs are not welcome in Lynchburg.

“Those are individuals that we want out of our community. So certainly we try and focus our efforts and attention on those individuals. And that’s what we’ll continue to do as we go forward.”

You can find the full recording of the news conference on the City of Lynchburg’s Facebook page here.