Leaders hear from Roanoke’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission on prevention, intervention programs

The meeting comes after the commission has received criticism over their work

ROANOKE, Va. – Amid growing questions, concerns and criticism of Roanoke’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission, the group came together with city leaders to share their progress and mission on Monday for a gun violence prevention framework meeting.

The framework for the commission focuses on three areas: prevention, intervention and enforcement.

The commission reviewed its efforts in these three areas during the meeting.

“[The goal is] To get a comprehensive overview of all the efforts that are currently taking place in this city regarding addressing and reducing gun violence,” said Joe Cobb, vice-mayor and chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Commission.

Monday’s meeting was in response to city council members calling for more oversight of the commission.

Some council members, including Mayor Sherman Lea, have criticized the commission’s work.

“I am frustrated with the fact that we look good and sound good on paper, but the outcomes aren’t happening,” said Lea.

From 2020 to 2022, the number of shootings has increased in Roanoke.

Mayor Lea said he wants to see more immediate actions taken.

“I’m looking for things that can happen today that can resolve this. That’s what we are talking about today. That’s why we have this process under review by our audit committee,” said Lea.

An audit of the commission was announced back in February.

Cobb said critiques like these can be expected when trying new approaches.

“Anytime we try something we are going to get criticism. But if we don’t try things if we aren’t agile and adaptable as a community and try things then we will never get anywhere,” he said.

Some programs the commission highlighted during the meeting were the reading program at Lincoln Terrace Elementary School, the Groceries not Guns buyback program and distributing free gun locks in city schools and during city events.

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