Roanoke’s mayor and community members are optimistic about new police chief

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 10:03 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The City of Roanoke has appointed a new police chief.

Scott Booth, current Police Chief for the City of Danville, will assume the position of Roanoke City Chief of Police October 31.

“I am excited for the opportunity to lead the Roanoke Police Department and to positively impact the Roanoke community,” said Booth. “I have spoken with Interim Roanoke Police Chief Jerry Stokes several times over the last several days, and I feel his leadership is already moving the department in the right direction. Danville remains a priority for me over the next several weeks. Although my leadership is coming to an end in Danville, I remain committed to ensuring that public safety here remains on the forefront. Roanoke: I am looking forward to serving you and making the Star City a safer place for all.”

Booth has more than 27 years of law enforcement experience, including a tenure as the Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

“There is no doubt that Chief Booth has the demonstrated ability to lead our City Police Department—building on a foundation already established, with a continued emphasis on prevention, intervention, and enforcement,” Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell said. “Chief Booth’s leadership of our officers and our community will ensure Roanoke remains a safe place for residents, businesses, and visitors.”

In 2017, Danville had the highest per capita violent crime rate. Under Booth’s leadership, according to the city, Danville crime reached a 35-year low in 2020.

City leaders are optimistic Booth’s leadership will help the Star City stop the violence.

“We’re hoping that our new chief will come on with some ideas. It’s like halftime of the game,” said Mayor Sherman Lea. “We want to refocus. Let’s go back out with a game plan and I think we’re working on that.”

“Really hoping that when the new chief comes that he would put boots to the ground and that he would really just see and identify,” said Roanoke resident and Fed UP co-founder Rita Joyce. “And I think that someone coming in with new eyes may see something different than what the former chiefs and other people have seen in the police force. Maybe he’ll see something different and we can see some resolution and some reduction in gun violence.”

Roanoke’s last full-time chief, Sam Roman, is now an assistant city manager. Interim Chief Jerry Stokes is running the department until Booth takes over.