ROANOKE, Va. – The mission to combat gun violence in Roanoke continues.
On Monday, Roanoke City Council and the Gun Violence Prevention Commission met for a joint meeting to go over expectations of one another.
This comes after several council members, including Mayor Sherman Lea, have spoken out saying they want to be more involved with the decisions made by the commission, specifically when it comes to handing out funding to other organizations.
“I want council, and we’ve talked about this, to be more involved in that decision-making process,” said Mayor Lea.
Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb, who is also the chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Commission, presented the commission’s strategic plan recommendations to council. The plan included eight recommendations.
- To continue the research process of gathering and reviewing evidence-based data related to the root causes of gun violence
- To codify a framework for the City of Roanoke’s gun violence funding support of prevention, intervention, and response efforts
- Secure ongoing funding for gun violence prevention, intervention, and response efforts by identifying sources of dedicated and sustainable funding streams.
- To increase and sustain partnerships within the community to aid in the reduction of gun violence
- To implement a public campaign to promote the City’s efforts to prevent, interrupt, and respond to gun violence
- To support the GVPC internal committee structure and stakeholder engagement plan
- To add two youth and young adult (non-voting) seats to the GVPC
- To address, with the City Council, the root causes of gun violence with these recommendations, in an identified and prioritized section of the city
“It’s a reflection of the work that’s happening in the community right now and some recommendations of how we can sustain that work with infrastructure and then also forward-thinking strategies,” said Cobb.
Council spent a lot of time discussing the second recommendation regarding how they should be involved when it comes to the commission handing out funds. A proposal presented during Monday’s meeting says council would receive recommendations from the commission on how to spend the funds, then council would give its stamp of approval.
“I think it will just add another layer of communication. I think the reality is while the commission is frontline in so many ways, council is even more frontline because we get a lot of questions,” said Cobb.
City leaders also spoke about continuing to focus their efforts in the northwest section of Roanoke, which is considered a “hot spot” for gun violence.
“That’s no secret to everybody in Northwest,” said Mayor Lea. “Our money has been going to Northwest,” he said.
These strategic recommendations were discussed in the midst of an audit of the commission, which Mayor Lea says he hopes will be completed and the findings revealed later this month.