Roanoke police to create a unit that combats gang violence

Plans are in the making for the new gang detection unit

ROANOKE, Va – A new unit in the Roanoke City Police Department is being created to combat the recent spike in violence in the city.

The plans were discussed during Friday’s Gun Violence Task Force meeting, but they are still in the early stages. Members of the department say there will be lots of changes over the next few weeks.

While the plans for the department’s new Gang Detection Unit are still early, Joshua Johnson with Roanoke Police says they hope to streamline communication within different sections of the police department.

“A lot of our folks are working on the same thing and so getting them over to investigations will hopefully help streamline that and obviously the community mitigation and community volunteer coordinator will be part of that,” Roanoke Police Officer Joshua Johnson said.

The latest data regarding gun violence shows incidents related to aggravated assaults where someone got shot jumped from 21 in 2019 to 36 this year.

8 of the 11 homicides in the city this year have been related to gun violence.

Johnson also discussed the most recent shootings in the city.

“A 17-year-old girl was shot in a drive-by shooting on 9th street in Southwest, so the first one was southwest this one was 9th street southwest a 17-year-old girl, those are the two most recent ones,” Johnson said.

Members of the Gun Violence Task Force say the changes are a step in the right direction.

“I do believe that with this new unit they will have a little bit more resources I think to kind of focus on some of the same issues that we are also trying to tackle,” task force member Shakira Williams said.

These changes in the police department will go into effect on Nov. 1 and the task force will present some of its recent findings to Roanoke City Council in soon after in early November.

About the Author

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.

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