Roanoke gun violence task force releases recommendation list

Task force presented its 22 recommendations on Monday

ROANOKE, Va. – The mission to end gun violence in the Star City has brought dozens of community members together over the past several months.

On Monday, the Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence presented its recommendations to Roanoke City Council.

The biggest conclusion from Monday's presentation is that the work of the task force will continue.

The 22 recommendations, which look to tackle the issue of gun violence holistically, are broken down into five main categories.

  • To build safer and healthier neighborhoods
  • To increase strong community partnerships and education among students, parents and stakeholders
  • To reduce gang activity, violence and recidivism
  • To increase coordination of City Services and planning
  • To increase stakeholder engagement and media partnerships 
  • The task force wants to use a public health model to cut back on what it calls the epidemic of gun violence. 

    Two of the biggest recommendations are establishing a rapid response team and a crisis center. Both of those initiatives are aimed at preventing violence and reacting to it. 

    "We've said from the beginning, we want to create solutions that are tangible, meaningful and transformative and, the reality is, some of these things we're going to be able to act on very quickly. Some of them are going to take longer because it's about changing the way in which we see this issue as a culture," said Roanoke Vice Mayor Joe Cobb.

    Below are the 22 recommendations:

  • Extend the work of the task force past Nov. 4 so it can continue its work and complete the task of implementing tangible, meaningful and transformative actions to reduce gun violence within Roanoke City.
  • Participate in and support a community walk of silence from the MLK Bridge to the City Christmas Tree -- the Bridging the Community Gap event -- on Dec. 12, including the sharing of a pledge to end violence in the city and to remember citizens who have been affected by gun violence.
  • Continue and expand of a Kindergarten Reading Project to increase empathy and create kindness using the book “Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle in libraries and schools.
  • Propose citywide “Pop Up Potlucks” to build intraneighborhood relationships and strengthens community engagement.
  • Create positive and effective change in neighborhoods by addressing crime prevention through environmental design, including cleanup projects, greening, enhanced lighting, etc. Areas of priority should include but not be limited to areas with higher crime volumes and zones most affected by gun violence.
  • Create a citywide family educational program that increases child and youth self-awareness, confidence, love and empathy in the value of human life, while incorporating nonviolent and peer mediation-based practices, through utilization of community partnerships.
  • Increase parental and family support of the Roanoke City Public Schools gun safety pledge and current community locked gun safety programs to help raise awareness of suicide and accidental loss of life due to children’s access to guns. Increase stakeholder participation in the Project ChildSafe initiatives, including free gun locks.
  • Encourage greater collaboration among the task force, the Roanoke Police Department and community partners to increase community education and awareness of the location, structure and activities of Roanoke City gangs.
  • Affirm the efforts of the Roanoke C.A.R.E. initiative and request that two members of the task force be appointed to serve on the C.A.R.E. Team.
  • Identify transformative best practices on reducing gang violence by sending key members of the task force and community to observe municipalities experiencing a reduction in gang violence and learn about their models of practice.
  • Work with the Roanoke City Jail to improve access to programs, education, counseling and spiritual guidance to improve the odds of reducing recidivism, with priority given to those with a history of gun violence.
  • Work with the Roanoke City Jail to ensure that returning citizens, upon exit from jail/prison, have direct access to employment opportunities, peer-to-peer counseling and housing opportunities while being matched with care coordinators, community navigators, or professionals and programs focused on reducing recidivism, with priority given to those with a history of gun violence.
  • This point has two parts
    1. (a) Propose legislation for an initial review and/or reduction of child support during incarceration.
    2. (b) Work with the General Assembly and judicial system to create an incentive-based, alternative program designed to empower incarcerated persons -- through more family engagement, community navigator training and personal development skills -- to return to society with reduced child support debt and the ability to support their family system and reduce recidivism, with priority given to those with a history of gun violence.
  • Create additional community navigator career positions and first-year wraparound resources for returning citizens who were previously incarcerated to ensure successful reentry into society.
  • Recommend a 24-hour RAPID response team and crisis intervention center with a live and text-based hotline for immediate response, anonymous tips and conflict resolution utilizing the Cure Violence public health model and locally trained volunteers and mentors.
  • Recommend complete collaboration with local hospitals, law enforcement systems and community partners.
  • Recommend that the newly funded RESET grant position and team work directly with the task force to collaborate on gun violence reduction efforts.
  • Recommend that existing organizations and efforts, such as FEDUP, that ar working to reduce gun violence be assisted in becoming 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities to aid in the Rapid Response aftercare efforts.
  • Hire a communications/marketing partner through a competitive request for proposal process to assist the task force and strategic partners to develop and roll out a branded public influence campaign.
  • Recommend the task force develop a comprehensive action and capacity building plan based on these recommendations over the next three to six months.
  • Recommend the task force host a community stakeholders’ event in early 2020 to more fully develop community engagement and partnerships regarding these recommendations.
  • Recommend the task force report to the City Council every six months on its progress to date.
  • Click here to learn more about the task force's recommendations.

    About the Authors:

    Jessica Jewell

    Jessica anchors 10 News on Saturdays and Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m. You can also catch her reporting during the week.

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