NORFOLK, Va. — To get a pulse on the state of crime in our country, you could talk to police or politicians or speak to those who have experienced it firsthand.
We chose the ladder.
Meet Cameron Bertrand and Dorion Jackson.
“It took me two years to come to this exact spot,” Bertrand said in a recent interview.
This intersection near Norfolk State University in Virginia may not mean much to you, but for these best friends, it’s the place that changed their lives.
“The police never caught the person who shot us,” Bertrand added.
Back in 2015 — this is where a thief shot the pair. The duo was leaving a homecoming event nearby.
“We hear the gun cock,” Bertrand recalled.
“He had the gun pointed at us, and he said, ‘you know what time it is — running,'” Bertrand said.
“For those that don’t know what that means — it means to empty your pockets,” Bertrand said.
We are having a conversation not to recall their injuries or catch the shooter but to learn their perspective about the state of crime today.
“Has gun violence gotten worse?” our Joe St. George asked Bertrand.
“Yes, it has,” Bertrand said.
“They call this shark city – because the mindset for most people is eat or be eaten,” Bertrand added.
“When I saw his eyes, I knew that was something he didn’t want to do because he was trembling,” Jackson added.
Both men have worked to move past the crime by creating non-profits and a survivor network.
For instance, Bertrand started VIP, Violence Intervention and Prevention, to help teens and their families. He also launched a resource center to help survivors of gun violence.
CRIME ON THE RISE
Cities like Denver, Milwaukee, and Baltimore could all shatter their homicide records in 2022.
While not every city is seeing a spike in crime, with the midterm election on the horizon, indicating violence is a top issue on voters’ minds.
Democrats and Republicans are scrambling to get it under control.
President Joe Biden delivered a speech on Tuesday calling for more police funding.
Last month, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended a prosecutor in the Tampa area over concerns he was being too soft on criminals.
So how do Republicans and Democrats differ when it comes to crime response?
Leaders in both parties appear supportive of increases in funding to hire police.
President Biden wants to hire 100,000 new officers.
Both parties are also interested in violence prevention programs too.
But that’s where the similarities end.
Republicans, if they take back control of Congress, want to focus on stricter penalties for breaking the law.
Democrats, meanwhile, want to focus on gun control to limit the guns on America’s streets.
As for more police — Jackson and Bertrand say it has to be done right.
If new recruits don’t know or care about the communities they serve — in their view — little will change.
Trust and hope remain a big issue in some of our country’s most violent areas.
“There has to be a rapport before you can actually come in and serve,” Bertrand said.
“We have good young people who don’t want to carry guns but feel like they have to,” Bertrand added.