Roanoke Police Department assessment reveals staffing shortages in criminal investigations unit

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 4:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City has seen a record year for violent crimes and homicides. The management group that conducted the assessment, Center for Public Safety Management, LLC, (CPSM) found Roanoke City’s crime rates are higher than average, but detective staffing levels are a concern.

The report found there are a significant number of open positions on the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau. These detectives are responsible for bringing justice to victims and their families.

At the time of the report in April, there were 28 open detective positions, and an overall vacancy rate of more than 30%.

The national average of recorded vacancies by CPSM is 8%.

The high number of vacancies leads to higher caseloads per detective. The Roanoke Police Department (RPD) experienced 1,194 homicide/violent crime cases per detective in 2022. The report notes that while there are no standards to determine an appropriate caseload, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) suggests a detectives caseload between 120 and 180 cases per year is considered manageable.

RPD’s caseload numbers exceed the recommendations by the IACP and other national associations.

The report notes the higher caseloads will need to be addressed and controlled with hiring more detectives.

RPD has 21 open and unsolved murder cases from 2018 through 2023. The report recommended RPD begin to prioritize these investigations.

Finally, the assessment found that RPD has efficiently prevented gun violence in the city from escalating further by seizing guns.

It also says RPD should continue with its existing crime prevention strategies.

WDBJ7 asked RPD to comment on these findings, and the department referred our team to City Manager Bob Cowell.

We’ve been reaching out to Cowell for days to talk about this assessment, but only received a general statement from his office.

This assessment gave RPD 145 recommendations to improve its public safety operations. Our WDBJ7 Investigative Team will continue digging through the 200-page document to bring you the latest findings.

So far, we’ve discovered there are trust issues within police leadership and the report found the department could be using resources more efficiently.