9:42 PM EST, November 8, 2012
Say the words Northwest Roanoke and often, this section of town gets a bad rap.
"I think pockets of crime or anything else happen all through the city. We probably get more of it because again it's more condensed, more urban," says Mia Webb-Fittz who grew up in Northwest.
Lt. M.W. Lovern with the Roanoke City Police Department patrols what's known as Zone Four. The area includes Melrose and Shenandoah Avenues, along with parts of Peters Creek and Hershberger Roads.
"I refer to it as the tide. We are going to have peaks and we can have our valleys," says Lovern.
The longtime theory is police presence curbs crime, but around here there is a belief city officials aren't doing enough
"There are certain areas and certain stores over here that after dark you just don't stop at," says a woman who works in Northwest.
"I feel like more can be done but for the most part I feel safe." says another woman who lives in Northwest.
Some however say if gunfire or the fear of getting robbed doesn't keep you trapped in your home, the drug dealers will.
Last month, Roanoke's police chief announced his department is expanding the Drug Market Initiative to the Melrose-Rugby section of Northwest. The program aims to transform non-violent drug dealers. Currently operating in Hurt Park, the city estimates the drug trade and crime has dropped by nearly 40 percent.
"We've also put plain clothes officers over there on special assignments. They're walking the streets walking the alleyways at all hours of the day and night," says Lovern.
According to statistics some of these undercover efforts may be working. In the last year, the number of robberies fell by nearly half. On the flip side more minor offensives like shoplifting is up.
"I want to give these streets back to the citizens that live here, the ones that either pay rent or actually own the house and have been here for years. I want to give these streets back to them," says Lovern.
Each area in the city has it's own share of problems. Take for instance, business burglaries. Zone 4 which is in the Northwest part of the city has had two so far this year. Zone 2, in Northeast, has had the same amount. Last year though it was Zone 3, in Southwest Roanoke that saw the most business break-ins.
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