ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City has been plagued by gun violence. So far this year, 24 people have been shot and killed with more than 50 others injured in shootings.
In an effort to build trust with the community, Roanoke City’s new top cop is taking to the streets to meet with neighbors living in the heart of violence.
Street by street and door by door, Roanoke City’s new police chief, Scott Booth is getting to know his new community.
“We have to get out and knock on doors with members of our community and ask them what they need,” said Booth.
On Friday, Booth and the department held their first-ever community walk, meeting with Northwest Roanoke neighbors living in a gun violence hot spot.
“At its core, it’s about improving trust and legitimacy,” said Booth.
It’s a community policing initiative Booth brought from Richmond to Danville, and now to the Star City.
“We’ll not just be, you know, in the Northeast, Northwest,” said Booth. “It’ll also be in the Southeast, Southwest, and our business districts. It’s really important that everybody gets to not only see and hear from me, but also our officers.”
“I think it’s a great thing,” said Patrol Captain Andy Pulley.
He and other officers handed out gun locks, National Child Identification Program kits, and listened to neighbors’ concerns and needs.
“Seeing firsthand what our citizens are living and experiencing,” said Pulley. “Do they have access to playgrounds and ball courts and things of that nature?”
Booth says policework isn’t just about technology and forensics.
“The majority of crime, especially violent crime, is solved through cooperation with the community. They have to trust us and they have to want to talk to us when an incident occurs,” said Booth.
To the naysayers, Booth has this message: “Give it a chance.”
Booth and the department are hoping these community walks are the first step towards trust and creating a safer city.