After break-ins and shots fired, Roanoke PD says lights making difference downtown

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 10:34 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Early in the morning of July 12, Roanoke police officers rushed in as dozens of shots were fired in the heart of downtown. The incident, just the most dramatic of a series of incidents, prompted the department to move in a set of giant lights.

Now, nearly three weeks later, the department says results have been promising, and a permanent replacement is on its way.

“The business owners down here seem to like it. The gentleman who cleans up the lots says that there’s a lot less trash in the lots as well,” said Sgt. A. Martin, the downtown sergeant for Roanoke PD.

She says the lights were a response not only to the shooting, but to theft in the parking lots at the corner of Williamson and Church.

“We’re just having ongoing issues in the parking lots down here,” she said.

Roanoke police say the lights are an example of what they call “crime prevention through environmental design.” The idea is to shift surroundings, be that lights, locked doors, or other measures, to deter crime.

“This approach was taken in the idea that it would actually help solve it better than just sitting an officer in the parking lot,” said Martin.

But the three lights were only ever going to be temporary. The lights themselves have been on loan from VDOT, and have only been available on the weekends. Now a more permanent solution is on the way.

The lots’ owner, Park Roanoke, says it’s planning to install a single, large LED light in the parking lot. They have no timeline for when that light will be put in place, but they say it should happen in the coming weeks.

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