Chamber, police partner on business safety

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Isle of Wight’s Chamber of Commerce and the Smithfield Police Department are partnering to create a business-oriented crime prevention program as part of a larger initiative to become a certified crime prevention community.

“The survey we recently sent out was to get an idea of what crime prevention services the businesses are interested in, what crimes they may be seeing or feeling they are at risk for, how often they contact the police department for assistance, etc.,” said Jessica Jones-Healey, the chamber’s president.

The seven-question online survey asks Smithfield business owners to describe their public safety and crime-related experiences and concerns through questions such as how recently their business has requested police assistance and what safety-related issues are of greatest concern — for example, robbery, burglary, shoplifting and vandalism.

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The survey also asks businesses to state their interest in receiving burglary prevention, robbery preparedness or a security assessment. Participants are also invited to offer feedback in their own words.

“Officer Donna Hughes and Officer Christopher McGough with the Smithfield Police Department reached out to us regarding the partnership,” said Jones-Healey, who added that the chamber is supporting the initiative. In addition, she said, the chamber also includes crime prevention tips in its monthly e-newsletter.

A multi-step process is required to become a certified crime prevention community in Virginia. The process includes submitting a town council-approved statement of interest and resolution of participation, according to information included in the council’s December meeting agenda. The police department plans to submit the program application in January or February to the state’s Department of Criminal Justice.

On its website, the DCJS describes the program as “one of the first of its kind in the nation.” The goal is to encourage localities to develop and implement collaborative safety plans that can be adjusted to respond to public safety and crime-related issues at the community level.