Police reactivate special unit to fight summer crime

SIRT team of 6 officers will patrol the city's hot spot areas

LYNCHBURG, Va. – James Mashburn lives near Madison and Sixth Street where Jamale Pannell was killed in April. Rodney Spinner,18, is charged with for his death.

"After the most recent shooting, it seems more certainly over the last month there's been police presence even just driving through the neighborhood," Mashburn said.

Mashburn has welcomes other neighbors into his home hosting neighborhood barbecues for everyone to get acquainted and looking out for one another.

"So that if anything happens out of the ordinary, you know, we'll know who each person is and hopefully be able to come to the rescue if we need to," Mashburn said.

During summer nights, Lynchburg police are reactivating their Special Investigations Response Team (SIRT). It's made up of six officers who will patrol the city's hot spot areas, which are: Madison and Sixth Streets, the Diamond Hill area, Cabell Street and Rivermont Avenue.

"They're specific job is to look for street-level crime. What we call serious crimes we're talking about," Lt. Tony Crews said.

Police said, on average, in the last five years, violent crime trends in June have increased by 16 percent, July 15 percent and in August an average increase of 9 percent.

"Our intelligence area is telling us this area is going to see an increase of calls for services during that three month time period. That's why we're going to be focusing there," Crews said.

"I think everybody in the community wants to work together, wants to help the police. But to see more police presence I think is a good thing. So I'm glad that they're reinstating it," Mashburn said.

To report anything suspicious in your neighborhood, Lynchburg police ask that people call 911 or their non-emergency number at 434-847-1602.

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