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‘It’s different to manage’: New Roanoke police chief makes adjustments due to COVID-19

Chief: Most Roanokers are obeying social distancing guidelines

Roanoke City police adjust to policing during pandemic
Roanoke City police adjust to policing during pandemic

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Police Department Chief Samuel Roman has only been on the job for a month, but a lot has changed in that short time because of COVID-19.

“Things that we’re used to doing almost on a daily basis without much thought now require a lot of thought,” Roman said.

Chief Roman said his department is following the lead from the Centers for Disease Control to keep both the community and his officers safe.

“Officers have masks, gloves and protective equipment,” Roman said. “I won’t say it’s difficult to manage, but it’s different to manage.”

Officers have also kept watch to make sure citizens are following social distancing guidelines, including avoiding Roanoke’s greenway system. According to Roman, there have been “very few” incidents of people breaking the rules.

“If the community knows that these measures are in place to ensure that our community is safe, our community is generally willing to do that," Roman said. “We are grateful.”

While officers enforce social distancing guidelines, detectives are still investigating two homicides that happened in Roanoke in the past month. A woman’s body was found in southeast Roanoke on March 27, and a boy was shot and killed on Chapman Street SW last week.

Roman did not share any details on the investigations, but said detectives are making progress.

“It’s bittersweet," Roman said. "I would rather not see a homicide case here, but it is gratifying to know that our detectives work very, very hard.”