ROANOKE, Va. – Violent crimes are on the rise in the City of Roanoke, including shootings, causing injuries and some even deadly, like Wednesday morning’s homicide.
With more than 40 shootings since the start of the year and three homicides in the past month, Roanoke’s crime rate is on the rise.
The city’s Commonwealth’s Attorney is responsible for prosecuting violent and felony crimes. It’s a position Don Caldwell has held since 1979.
“We are in a situation where we are having a lack of cooperation among witnesses. Even as recently as this latest shooting that apparently the individual shot doesn’t know anything about it,” said Caldwell.
In November, Caldwell will be running for re-election against Democratic candidate, Melvin Hill who says he plans to focus on gun violence prevention in hopes of preventing cases to prosecute.
“I wanna be the prosecutor who comes to the City of Roanoke after my term is up and I was able to reduce violent and criminal activity by 10, 20, 30 or 40% — That means what? I have saved lives,” said Hill.
How Hill plans to do it? Collaboration.
“Each assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney will be assigned a part of the city and in that part of the city we will talk to churches, we will deal with the schools, we will partner with the dare program, we will work with nonprofits,” he said. “Any and everybody that wants to have a voice with what to do with criminal law and criminal justice.”
Caldwell says he has and plans to continue working with Roanoke Police and other entities in the valley but says his main priority is in the courthouse.
“The function of my office is to prosecute cases that are brought to us by police. That is our sole function. We do not have staff to go out into the community and act as cheerleaders, go out into the community and play basketball with people. My people are here to go to court and be in the court and that’s what we are going to continue to do,” Caldwell says.
Both Caldwell and Hill acknowledge there is a gang or gang-like groups problem in Roanoke which needs to be dealt with in hopes of curbing this recent rise in violence.