ROANOKE, Va. – Tax dollars will now be put to work to combat the rising gun violence in Roanoke.
Mayor Sherman Lea calls it an “epidemic” in the city and now an approved budget may be able to recruit more officers on the force.
Lea said citizens continue to ask for more patrol on the streets in Roanoke but staffing shortages are the problem.
“You got to pay them a little more because it’s competitive out here,” Lea said.
That’s why on Monday the city council approved the authority to increase salaries to recruit more officers.
The annual salary originally was $38,639.75, and now the position will pay $42,500 starting July 1.
Lea tells 10 News they are using geographical policing with the goal to patrol more neighborhoods.
“The citizens tell me they want more officers in their community, in their localities,” Lea said. “So we are looking out a lot of things.”
Lea said he is even considering “old school methods” like reward systems and installing cameras to tackle the ongoing issue.
He added that some business owners have mentioned they are willing to sponsor gun buy-back programs.
We also asked the mayor about the effectiveness of the gun violence task force that was put in place to help combat crime.
He said they are developing relationships with the community.
But the community needs to do its part.
“The police and the law enforcement are not going to be the only ones to solve these issues,” he said.
He also wants to put funds toward mental health to help prevent violence, but it’s not clear if that’s included in the budget.
The finalized budget will take effect at the beginning of July.