ROANOKE, Va. – Sitting at tables on Monday morning, more than 30 representatives from more than a dozen organizations pledged to do whatever their organizations can to help the Roanoke Gun Violence Task Force reduce gun violence.
“I think we need to get at the issue that causes people to feel like they have to have a gun," Stephen Niamke said.
Niamke was at the meeting representing Meta Peace Team.
“Meta Peace Team is an organization that was established in 1993. The goal was to teach people about active non-violence and to place peace teams in places where there might be a potential conflict that might escalate to violence," Niamke said.
For him, the issue of gun violence is personal.
“I regularly hear gunshots in my neighborhood, so it gives me reason to be concerned," Niamke said.
Roanoke interim police chief Chester Smith said seeing so many people willing to help gives him some peace of mind.
“It’s very encouraging, I’m excited about it. Our agency will do anything we can to support our community stakeholders," said Smith. “The main thing is, all of us working together to come up with ideas to prevent violent crime and support all the people who have been victims.”
Task Force chairwoman Shakira Williams said Monday’s meeting was to affirm support from the community for the task force, and she believes that was accomplished.
“We’d like to really start trying to implement some of our ideas," Williams said.
That's actually already happening though.
One of the Task Force’s 22 recommendations developed in 2018 was to have a stake holder meeting.
The task force’s next meeting is March 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Williams Memorial Baptist Church.