Roanoke Police Chief talks upcoming new role, reflects on time with RPD

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 10:51 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman was named an assistant city manager, effective in July, on Monday. The move means the city will be in search of a new chief in the next three months. On Wednesday, we spoke with Roman about his upcoming new role and his time at RPD.

“I think ultimately being the chief of police and in a leadership position over the entire police department, not to mention a figure in the community doing some of the same things, bringing the resources together to create a viable solution for all, and so I think that has uniquely prepared me for the assistant city manager position.”

How involved are you going to be in the next few months process of bringing in a new chief?

“I’ll be involved, to the extent that the manager deems appropriate. I am sure, obviously, you know, having been chief here for the last three years, and being with the organization for almost 30 years, I could probably provide some valuable insight for the manager to make a good decision as to who the next chief was going to be. But ultimately, it’s his decision.”

What happens if someone isn’t hired by July?

“If someone isn’t hired before July, then the (city) manager, he has to make a decision as to whether he would like to appoint an interim or perhaps utilize one of our assistant chiefs here to fill the small gap that may exist between or potentially exists between July one and the new person actually sitting in this seat. So the good news is, we have a great team here at Roanoke and there are so many people who could step in to serve that as that that interim measure if necessary.”

What would you want the new chief coming in to know about the crime in the city and also the vacancies that you all have had in the police department over the past couple of years?

“I would like him or her to know, what I am confident that as a viable candidate for the chief of police will already know, that crime reduction is a very intricate and delicate way in which you have to solve that. And so that chief has to be astutely aware of all of the external things that dictate and contribute to whether crime is reduced or not.”

When it comes to some of the firearm injuries over the past few years, they have been rising ever since 2020. Did that have any role in you taking a new role with the city and leaving this position?

“No, in fact, our gun violence incidents are decreasing. And so I think that we’re headed in the right direction. As I’ve said, all along some of the things that we have put in place over the last three years, not just as a police department, but as a community, you will begin to see those things pay off.”

We got wind of a survey about some internal things that some of the officers were saying when it came to to morale and in some of the leadership, do you feel like over the past few years that you have been able to address that?

“Absolutely, we feel that our staff here definitely are in a better place now than they were. As you know, obviously, those were very difficult times in a post George Floyd right after a George Floyd incident. And of course, in the height of COVID, and subsequently a tridemic. And so obviously, not just law enforcement, but that would wear on any profession, but we have certainly put things in place, been able to work with our staff to make this a great place to work, if not the best place to work.”

Talk to me a little bit about kind of what you’ve been proud of as your time as chief here.

“One of the things that I am most proud of and will continue to be most proud is really the team of people that we have working here. Oftentimes, the public really don’t get to see the compassion, the professionalism that our officers have here, and that’s from the chief all the way down to the newest officer and back up. I’m most proud of that, how our officers really strive to do the best they can to keep our community as safe as possible.”

Is there anything that you would if you could go back and you would change over your time here?

“I’m a firm believer in not changing any thing that you’ve already done. Everything happens for a reason. I think over the last three years of me being chief and almost 30 years that I’ve been part of this team here at Roanoke, that we have overcome tremendous hurdles and we’ve come out on top every time which is what I love about law enforcement the most, they are so resilient.”