New call towers aim to provide safety, security in Norfolk’s underserved areas

New call towers aim to provide safety, security in Norfolk's underserved areas

NORFOLK, Va. — It may be summertime, but Sasha Simmons says she has to limit how long her kids spend outside in their neighborhood.

“The only time I let them play is if it’s right in front of the house but even then, I would rather go outside of my neighborhood because you never know what can happen,” said Simmons.

Simmons said she’s lived in both Calvert Square and Young Terrace neighborhoods of Norfolk. She said the violence has created some sleepless nights for her.

“It’s really bad,” she said. “I hear shooting all the time, especially at night. Sometimes it wakes me up out of my sleep.”

A civic engagement organization called the New Virginia Majority said there’s a plan in place to make underserved communities feel safer by installing emergency call towers. The large blue towers will allow people to make an anonymous call for help, alleviating the fear of retaliation.

“If someone is being chased if someone, is not involved in what’s going on, but also could be harmed in the process they would be able to hit the button and facilitate a response,” said Monet Johnson with New Virginia Majority. “The call towers also have a speaker on them so it would release a loud noise that would sort of help solve the situation.”

Johnson said these new towers will also help with over-policing

“We see a lot of policing in the community during the daytime hours when they’re not the most necessary but we don’t see them when things are actually happening,” added Johnson.

Once installed, the towers will also serve as a resource for light.

“Unfortunately, these areas are not the best lit in the evening and the emergency call towers have lighting on top of them,” explained Johnson.

Simmons says these resources are very necessary and needed.

“I feel like it could be a great thing, just in case an emergency happens, so if you can’t get to your phone if you don’t have a phone, you can just get help when it’s needed,” says Simmons

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