ROANOKE – There is new reaction to the apology Roanoke City police chief Tim Jones made clarifying his controversial statements about rape statistics, and what some considered to be "victim blaming."
In a written apology Chief Jones issued Tuesday night, he made it clear that wasn't the case.
“During the February 19th Public Safety briefing with Roanoke City Council, I responded to questions from members of Council regarding the increased reports of rape and sexual assault. Regrettably, my explanation has sparked dismay within our community. I was attempting to convey information gained from our investigations as to how citizens might best protect themselves. I believe it is now clear that I failed to convey this information to the public in a manner that was sensitive to victims of rape and sexual assault. For this, I offer my sincere apology. My hope is that we can collectively focus our efforts toward empowering all people within our community to keep themselves safe. The offenses of rape and sexual assault are offender based and should never happen to women in our society. My response to council concerning the increased instances of rape were not intended to hurt or lay blame towards any victim. As Chief of Police, I am committed to the safety of our City. I want to assure each of you that the collective body of police officers here at the Roanoke Police Department are committed to putting the best interest of this City and the safety of its citizens first, as we continue to serve and protect all within our City.“
One of the leaders of Roanoke Indivisible, Ivonne Wallace-Fuentes, talked to 10 News about the apology. Members of the organization protested and addressed Roanoke City Council about their concerns.
“I am grateful for the chief for issuing an apology. I think it's important that we have these types of conversations. I don't think it's enough. I think it is more than just about language. I think it's about using data to make better decisions about the safety of everybody,” Wallace-Fuentes said.
A similar sentiment was shared by protester Madalyn Sullivan, a student at Liberty University.
"I think it's a good first step, but I definitely don't think it's enough,” Sullivan said.
"It didn't feel satisfying to me. I speak for myself and for others when I say that we want him to show commitment to it,” Sullivan said.
Wallace-Fuentes said the problem extends beyond Roanoke, and is a symptom of a much greater problem.
“Well, I think that there is a general sense of victim blaming and patriarchy. I don't think that is necessarily just about the chief or just about Roanoke. I think this is just the culture that we live in. As I said, none of these are easy issues to fix. These are longstanding issues, right. But we have responsibility to try to make it better,” Wallace-Fuentes said.