This Place Has Been Named the Most Dangerous Place to live in Virginia County

Virginia, boasting a vibrant history, varied geography, and a population exceeding 8.6 million, reveals disparities in safety and tranquility across its locales. According to the latest FBI crime data, one city emerges as the most perilous within Virginia County: Portsmouth.

Portsmouth: A City Grappling with Elevated Crime Rates

Portsmouth, housing approximately 98,000 residents along the Elizabeth River opposite Norfolk, stands proud as the home of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard—a significant employer. Nevertheless, a shadow looms over the city due to its notably high rates of violent and property crime in Virginia County, ranking among the state’s highest.

As per FBI statistics, Portsmouth recorded 875 violent crimes per 100,000 individuals in 2022, surpassing the state average of 250 by over threefold. These violent crimes encompass murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Additionally, Portsmouth documented 4,881 property crimes per 100,000 individuals in 2022, exceeding the state average of 1,609 by a similar margin. Property crimes include burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.

These figures translate to residents of Portsmouth facing a 1 in 114 likelihood of falling victim to a violent crime and a 1 in 20 chance of being affected by a property crime. These odds rank among the most unfavorable in the state, significantly surpassing national averages of 1 in 382 and 1 in 43, respectively.

Unraveling the Causes of Portsmouth’s Peril

Multiple factors may contribute to the heightened crime rates in Portsmouth, including poverty, unemployment, education, drug abuse, and gang activity. The U.S. Census Bureau reports a poverty rate of 18.4% in Portsmouth for 2019, surpassing the state average of 9.9%. Portsmouth’s unemployment rate in August 2023 stood at 7.5%, outpacing the state average of 4.5%. Furthermore, Portsmouth’s high school graduation rate in 2020 was 84.9%, falling below the state average of 92.3%.

Experts also highlight the strained relationship between the police and the community as a factor impeding crime prevention. Portsmouth has witnessed instances of police misconduct, corruption, and brutality, eroding public confidence in law enforcement. Additionally, a history of racial tension and discrimination in Portsmouth may contribute to resentment and violence within certain population segments.

Strategies to Foster Safety in Portsmouth

While there is no swift fix to Portsmouth’s crime predicament, several measures can be implemented to ameliorate the situation, including:

  • Augmenting funding and resources for the police department and providing enhanced training and oversight for officers.
  • Strengthening collaboration and communication between the police and the community, while emphasizing transparency and accountability for police actions.
  • Launching programs and initiatives addressing root causes of crime, such as poverty, unemployment, education, drug abuse, and gang activity.
  • Offering increased support and opportunities for the youth, including mentoring, tutoring, sports, arts, and after-school activities.
  • Encouraging greater civic engagement and participation from residents through activities such as voting, volunteering, organizing, and advocating for positive change.

Portsmouth, with its abundant potential and concurrent challenges, boasts a rich history, strategic location, and diverse culture. However, the city grapples with a substantial crime problem jeopardizing the safety and well-being of its residents. Through collaborative efforts involving city officials, law enforcement, the community, and the state, Portsmouth can evolve into a safer and more prosperous place to call home.


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