Roanoke City Council discusses school safety

Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 8:37 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The threat of gun violence and the safety of students dominated much of the discussion, as Roanoke City Council met for its regular meeting Monday afternoon.

Council received an update from Chief of Police Sam Roman, from city staffers who have been helping to coordinate a variety of programs and from council member Joe Cobb who chairs the city’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission.

With the investigation of alleged threats in two city schools last week, concern over student safety took center stage.

“If we did a survey in the city right now, it would probably be the thing that most citizens that have children in the schools are concerned about,” said Mayor Sherman Lea.

At one point the subject turned to school resource officers, and Chief Roman told members of city council he would like to see SROs in each of Roanoke’s 17 public schools.

“It’s about making sure you provide a positive role model for those students,” Roman said. “Secondarily it’s to keep that school as safe as possible. That SRO would be responsible in part for ensuring there are protocols and processes in place for difficult situations. Much as we’ve seen in the recent weeks, just having the school in collaboration with school administration prepared for those. I do think our schools are prepared for that and I think having SROs can only enhance that and ensure that that preparedness is sustainable.”

Currently, there is one resource officer at each high school. Chief Roman told WDBJ7 he would like to see two.

Roman said he would like to see an SRO at each of the city’s middle schools.

The Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office is responsible for officers in the city’s elementary schools.

Funding issues and staffing shortages could complicate expansion of the SRO program, but more than one member of city council expressed support for the idea during the meeting Monday.

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