Sen. Tim Kaine sits down with Roanoke, Blacksburg leaders to get to the root of gun violence

School, faith, law enforcement and grassroots leaders gathered to discuss the topic

Senator Tim Kaine calls the rise in gun violence a “public health issue” and sits down with local leaders to discuss the ways to combat the crisis.

ROANOKE, Va – Senator Tim Kaine calls the rise in gun violence a “public health issue” and sits down with local leaders to discuss the ways to combat the crisis.

School, faith, law enforcement and grassroots leaders gathered at Melrose Branch Library Friday to get to the root of gun violence.

Addressing trauma, creating more vocational training and conversing with the youth are some of the topics to start.

“I was challenged effectively by folks here hey remember to include young people,” Kaine said. “Adults sitting around trying to figure out what’s the answer so that young people are not going down a violent path.”

Angela Williams, who will be joining Roanoke City’s Gun Violence Task Force, suggests community leaders hold meetings with teens to discuss their fears and needs.

Governor Glenn Youngkin visited Lynchburg Friday and discussed gun violence with 10 News.

Both Youngkin and Kaine agree mental health plays a key role.

“Coming out of this pandemic we are seeing more stress on our mental and behavioral health system than ever before,” Youngkin said.

At the library gathering, Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith said “the ineffectiveness of the mental health system in the state is disgraceful.”

Kaine said there needs to be more of a push to have more counselors and facilities to address a range of mental health needs.

Whether that is the stress of experiencing the loss of a loved one or even recovering as a victim of gun violence.

“There are really significant mental health needs and we’ve got to make sure we have the resources and the trained workforce to deal with it,” Kaine said.

Youngkin said he wants to invest in wages, training and equipment for law enforcement.

Roanoke City Police Chief Sam Roman said they also need more people.

“What we have to do is make sure we have enough police officers to ensure we are able to cover what our priorities are which is gun violence,” Roman said.

Securing employment for troubled youth and young adults was a primary concern.

Roanoke City Sheriff Antonio Hash said by working in corrections he searches for programs to bring into the jail system to teach and train people skills that could help people leave and attain a sustainable job.

Kaine shared with leaders the tax incentives employers can receive if they hire people with felony convictions. The Virginia Employment Commission explains in detail about the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Kaine is also pushing for the pass of the JOBS Act. Part of the act would expand Pell grant eligibility to help make it more affordable for people to sign up for classes or trainings to learn a skill and attain work.


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Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.