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‘The goal is to eliminate all gun violence’: Roanoke’s gun violence task force sets 2021 objectives

Aggravated assaults by gunfire climbed to 44 this year compared to 25 as of this time last year

With 2020 almost in our rear view, Roanoke police's gun violence task force is trying to figure out how to curb gun violence.
With 2020 almost in our rear view, Roanoke police's gun violence task force is trying to figure out how to curb gun violence.

ROANOKE, Va. – In part of their regular meeting, the Roanoke gun violence task force laid out their objectives for 2021. It culminates an active crime year for the star city that saw significant increases in gun violence-related incidents.

“This year has tested us in more ways than one,” said one of the board members on Friday’s zoom meeting.

As of Wednesday, RPD has recorded 11 homicides by gunfire – an equal amount to last year. However, aggravated assaults by gunfire climbed to 44 this year compared to 25 as of this time last year.

Overall, there have been 14 murders in the Star City with 75% of those homicides linked to gunfire.

Notably, there have been 189 aggravated assault incidents but only 23% are linked to gunfire.

The gun violence task force has several committees that focus on everything from mitigation to prevention and education.

“Working on engaging more with the community. As I go out, it’s one of the things members of the community are longing for: a better relationship with the police department,” admitted Lloyd Merchant, Rapid Response Coordinator.

The task force believes that is achieved through things like one-on-one conversations, education for youth (specifically targeting teenagers) and relationship building – all objectives for 2021.


About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.