Roanoke police respond to unrest, evaluate 2017 crime

Chief Tim Jones says department has had many successes this year

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke police responded Friday to unrest in areas of the city over recent homicides. Police Chief Tim Jones spoke to 10 News reporter Tommy Lopez about how the department is trying to prevent crime and how the public can help.

He addressed the number of homicides this year, which, at 16, is two more than last year. He said Roanoke is seeing changes similar to other U.S. cities.

“When you look back at what’s going on across the country, 2017 was not as good as 2016, but when you look collectively across the nation, we are in keeping with the trends in much larger urban areas," Jones said.

He’s encouraging people to settle disputes peacefully and not resort to violence.

“Personal decision making, rationalization, making good choices are all key and vital to what we see at the end of the year in the violent crime bracket," Jones said.

Police say violent crime is down 7 percent this year compared to last year.

Jones said the efforts this year from police to be highly involved in the community have been successful in many ways and it’s leading to more people coming forward with tips.

“Just in the last couple of cases, homicides, we’re starting to at least get some information from some of those folks in the community," Jones said.

He said in many current open homicide cases, police have evidence against suspects but still need the public’s help.

“We’re going to have things happen. We don’t live in a vacuum but all cities have things happen as it relates to crime," he said. "Roanoke city and the Roanoke Valley is a great place to live. We are safe."

Jones said the department will increase its efforts next year to hear from more people in Roanoke. That includes forming a Youth Advisory Committee in 2018, which will help keep a conversation going between police and high school students in Roanoke.

He also said he hopes to see better interaction between people and police in 2018.

He had a positive message when asked what he would like to say to people worried about violent crime.

“Remain hopeful. Be willing to communicate with us or communicate through other people to us,"

He said people can remain anonymous when speaking to police.

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