Roanoke cops, kids and parents taking steps to end gun violence through relationship building

Badge Buddies brings cops and kids together as they train for a 5K

Gun violence continues to be a problem in Roanoke with two shootings in less than 24 hours.

ROANOKE, Va. – Having conversations with kids about violence can be tough. One Roanoke program aims to make that easier: Badge Buddies.

“We actually wanted to start this last year because schools were closed, kids didn’t have access to PE and recess and sports. Of course, all of the social unrest that was happening,” explained Ally Bowersock, the owner of RunAbout Sports in Roanoke. “So, I thought it would be a great time for everyone to just go for a run because we’re just people.”

Badge Buddies brings cops and kids together as they train for a 5K, giving them close access to see police beyond the badge.

“A lot of times they may see us in a negative aspect and we want to make sure we see them in a positive aspect as well,” said Roanoke Police Detective K. Dooley.

“Ultimately, I think a program like this is just the beginning,” opined Bowersock.

It is the beginning of a different kind of story — one they otherwise may not have been able to tell.

“It’s already starting to happen. Just last week one of the kids said, ‘Oh, she’s a police officer?’ They’re all in street clothes. So, it’s like ‘Oh, I didn’t realize somebody like that could be a police officer.’ That’s really what it’s about,” stated Bowersock.

“What we know from prevention work of many, many years is that we need to be the ones to tell our children that’s not what we do, but people are scared,” said Family Services of Roanoke Valley’s Director of Mental Health Services, Karen Pillis.

Family Services of Roanoke Valley is the lead agency for several local youth programs.

Pillis says when it come to prevention, parents should be direct.

“As parents, we need to understand they know what’s going on out there,” said Pillis.

The Badge Buddy 5K is Wednesday, August 4 at 9:30 at the West End Center in Roanoke.

They are encouraging the community to support the children by showing up and showing out! They want you to pack the route in support.

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.