Roanoke City Council receives annual public safety update

Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke’s Chief of Police detailed a continuing increase in violent crime Tuesday, as he provided an annual public safety update to members of city council.

“Gun violence is and will remain our number one priority within the police department,” Roman said during the council briefing.

He was unequivocal, as he told council members where the department’s priorities lie. And council members agreed.

“When we think of public safety, we mostly think about keeping the public safe, right?”said council member Bill Bestpitch. “And so I want you to know that I support and appreciate your department’s focus on dealing with the gun violence issue that certainly is way more in this city than we would like to see.”

Roman outlined results from the 2021 calendar year. Statistics reflected a slight decrease in crime of all types, but an increase of more than 7 percent in violent crime. There were 16 homicides compared with 12 the year before.

“Again, we truly believe we cannot be successful as we combat violent crime unless our community comes along with us on that journey,” Roman said.

The chief said staffing issues have had an impact on community outreach, but the department is trying to find different ways to achieve the same mission with fewer people.

“Thank you for what you do,” said council member Anita Price. “You’re spread thin.”

Another concern from more than one council member was an increase in sexual assaults. Chief Roman said the pandemic might be partly responsible, with more people spending time together in close quarters.

But he also said he hopes the department’s work with local organizations could be encouraging more victims to come forward.

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