Adjust text size

Norfolk chief wants to build trust with communities

July 29, 2013 | Virginia News

News Image By Patrick Wilson | The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK — When an officer shot and killed a suspect in May, it gave police Chief Mike Goldsmith his toughest challenge in his first year on the job. Controversy remains over the death of Joshua "Omar" Johnson at a Wells Fargo in Ghent, and at least one activist has said the police committed murder.
"There are people who are angry," Goldsmith said. "We understand that."

Police have sent an investigative report to the city's prosecutor for review. Goldsmith is among officials hearing complaints that people in the predominantly black community of Park Place, where Johnson lived, don't trust the process.

Police have said Johnson was trying to cash a stolen check at the bank at 21st Street and Colonial Avenue and was fatally shot by a responding officer after backing his car into the officer's partner. Members of the community have held a march and rally at City Hall and asked for release of surveillance video and in-car video.

Goldsmith has urged the public to be patient in waiting for the results of the investigation. But whether it's complaints over police actions or concerns brought up in civic league meetings, Goldsmith is increasingly finding that patience doesn't come easy.

A pastor who recently met with Goldsmith said the chief takes his job seriously.

The Rev. Chris Hines of Way of the Cross Church on Chesapeake Boulevard met with Goldsmith on July 8 in Park Place. Goldsmith had already talked to the NAACP, but public outcry over the shooting prompted officials in the city manager's office to schedule a meeting with Goldsmith, Hines and several others.

"I thought he was very aware of the situation - not just with Omar, but the tremendous gap between the community and the police," Hines said. ...

Read the full story...