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Roanoke Police discuss uptick in violent crimes in 2020

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Police Department numbers show an uptick in violent crimes last year.

The number of aggravated assaults and homicides both increased from 2019 to 2020.

The department tracked those calls and said many of them are coming in on the weekends.

In 2020, the police department responded to 389 violent crime cases. In 2019 there were 335 violent crimes, and 342 violent crimes in 2018.

Police Chief Sam Roman broke down the numbers for city council members Monday morning in an annual public safety briefing.

“So obviously whenever you have increases in Part 1 Violent Crime, it is a concern,” Chief Roman said.

It’s a concern Chief Roman said departments nationwide share.

“Across the country 30% increase in homicides, increase in gun violence. Obviously there are some mitigating factors that contribute to and correlate to some of the things we see here in Roanoke,” Chief Roman said.

The Roanoke Police Department is working on outreach to be able to stop the violence before it happens and build trust with neighbors, Chief Roman said.

Another piece of data discussed with WDBJ7 highlighted the department’s need for more officers. Right now the department has 35 open positions.

“The number in which we have seen vacancies occur in 2020 which has carried over to 2021 is pretty alarming. But again that’s not just the Roanoke City police department. We are seeing this across the nation,” Chief Roman said.

The department is looking forward and working to find ways to attract new talent. Roman said he is confident that his officers will be compensated appropriately.

Chief Roman also wanted to remind people that community collaboration helps officers do their job better.

After a string of shootings in the city last week, Chief Roman wanted to remind people that there are anonymous ways to submit tips to the department. He said those tips can help answer questions in an investigation and help bring justice to a community.

For anyone who wants to submit an anonymous tip, you can call 540-344-8500 or text 274637 and start your message with RoanokePD.

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