ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke’s top cop is calling on the community to come together in the wake of recent shootings.
Chief Sam Roman said there’s a lot of work underway to make Roanoke a safer city, but his main approach moving forward is focused on community collaboration and being proactive instead of reactive.
“This is not something that we’d like to see in our community,” Roman said. “It brings great concern.”
Gun violence incidents in 2020 were up about 60% from 2019.
At least 14 have happened so far in 2021 and many have been gang-related.
Roman said that gang violence is becoming more organized and often stems from people who aren’t from here.
“It is our job not just as a police department but a community to find ways in which we can insert ourselves both from a proactive or reactive posture and mitigate, disrupt, dismantle these organizations or groups that would cause harm to our community,” Roman said.
Over the last year, that’s amounted to the department creating a gang unit, restructuring some units for better coordination, sending people out to address neighborhood concerns and using crime stats for predictive policing to put officers in problem areas.
Roman said it’s not up to law enforcement alone.
“Everyone working together to solve the problem, I think that’s where we’re going to find our success,” Roman said.
That’s why their focus moving forward is on community collaboration which is especially important after a string of recent shootings and heading into the summer months when gun violence typically increases.
“I’m confident that with all of the agencies and partnerships that we have here within our community that this will not be a challenge for us, that we can move the needle forward in reducing some of the violence that we’ve seen,” Roman said.
Numbers for gunshot wound incidents are down just a bit for this year compared to last. But that’s only looking at the first three months. At least two more shootings have happened so far in April.