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Roanoke gun violence surpasses gun violence in 2018, 2019

Published: Nov. 13, 2020 at 10:44 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The sight of yellow crime scene tape has become familiar in Roanoke in 2020, and where the violence is happening is being tracked.

“Northwest and Zone 1, which is southeast, that’s where the majority of our incidents have occurred this year, and that’s pretty on par with what we’ve seen in years past," said a crime analyst for Roanoke Police on a virtual meeting Friday.

The Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence meets every month. The last several meetings have been virtual. At Friday morning’s meeting, members got an update on the number of violent acts the city has seen this year. Gun related aggravated assaults have nearly doubled from last year.

According to RPD, of the 51 total gun-related incidents, including 10 homicides and a solo domestic aggravated assault, 60 percent are confirmed to be gang related.

Another 11 percent are suspected to be gang related.

“One of our long-term goals is to start developing a hierarchy of these gangs so part of that is that we’re going to start building cases, and that doesn’t mean we stop prosecuting them here locally," said a RPD Captain.

This isn’t the first time RPD has talked about working with the US Attorney’s office to prosecute federally, but it’s one more change the PD is dealing with.

Another change: a new position.

“The folks that I’ve talked to are really excited to be a volunteer," said Lloyd Merchant, talking about a new restorative program.

LLoyd Merchant was introduced Friday. Merchant is the Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma or (RESET) Coordinator.

The program he’s responsible for is for those dealing with trauma from violence.

Sub groups of the Study Committee are also working on their top priorities. For the group focused on gang violence, that includes hiring a Youth and Gang prevention coordinator. Plans for that person’s exact role, and salary will be completed in the next 90 days.

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