Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence discusses focusing on youth and young adults

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 6:45 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - In Roanoke, the majority of offenders and victims involved in shootings are under the age of 30. That’s according to new data revealed Friday at the virtual Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence meeting.

The committee reviewed the data at the beginning of the meeting. Members say their focus needs to be on youth and young adults.

A Roanoke police crime analyst broke down the new data and age-specific demographics. From January 1 of 2020 through the end of the year, “We had 58 incidents in which a individual was struck by gunfire, and at the last meeting in December the Task Force requested age demographics,” the analyst, Alicia Morrison, said.

The data show that for all gunshot related incidents in Roanoke, the majority of victims and offenders are between 18 and 29 years old.

“All of these numbers that we see here are connected to people and the families and to neighbors and to this community and, you know, the depth of the impact that we’re seeing here is extraordinary,” Roanoke City Council Member Joe Cobb said.

The numbers influenced the discussion of the breakout Gun Violence Reduction group, which includes City Council Member Joe Cobb, Rabbi Kathy Cohen and other city leaders.

“If we can sort of know better the numbers we’re working with, we can start to look for funding that will serve that group, which is absolutely underserved in this community, which are the aged out young adults between the ages of 18-24, and, as we see in the numbers, that needs to be an area of hyperfocus for us,” a member of the Gun Violence Reduction Group said.

Members also talked about getting community organizations involved to create more educational, training and employment opportunities for youth to help combat gang violence.

Committee members said they want to hire someone new who would work with police and organizations “to work with young people either who may ultimately be at risk for joining gangs or who are looking for ways to get out of gangs,” Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Kathy Cohen said.

The next meeting is over Zoom at 10 a.m. Friday, February 12. Then in March, Members will participate in trauma training to learn more about what trauma is and how the members can make a real difference for folks who have experienced trauma.

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