“We will be standing in a safer community.” Roanoke City swears in new Chief of Police

Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 11:40 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City swore in its new chief of police Tuesday morning in City Council chambers.

Scott Booth, who has served as Danville’s police chief for the last five years, was sworn in by Judge David Carson in front of city leaders, officers, and representatives - many of whom have expressed optimism about his leadership.

“I think great things can happen,” Booth said during the press conference following his swearing-in. “Alright, so maybe we can’t move the needle on day one. But I will tell you, my pledge to you is that when we stand here next year, we will be standing in a safer community. A lot of it is about focus, accountability, and community engagement. And we’re practicing those things that have been solved. It’s firing on all cylinders. We will get there. We will get there.”

Booth said he is eager to bring his nearly 30 years of experience to the Star City. He said he aims to address the gun violence plaguing the City and build community trust.

“Community policing helps us build those relationships... helps us become trustworthy and legitimate in the eyes of the community to stop violence,” added Booth.

Booth also discussed transparency, asking the media and the public to hold him accountable. Members of the community have already had a chance to get to know Booth through a recent meet-and-greet.

He is stepping into an agency that has been found to have trust issues and staffing challenges as identified in a recent outside assessment of RPD. Booth says he read the evaluation and will use it to guide officers.

“I will connect, and I will listen to them. And I will build that morale and they will be heard. But they need to understand that we’re going to be more focused and accountable and more engaged with our community than ever before,” explained Booth.

The new hiring brings optimism to city leaders like Mayor Sherman Lea who says he is confident change will happen.

“He’s a proven leader,” said Lea. “He’s proven that wherever he’s been, I think that’s the good news. And I think you’ll see that making a difference.”

But to deliver on his promises, Booth says he will need support.

“This is just not a one-person job,” said Booth. “I need everybody in the department and everybody in the community with me "

You can watch Booth’s press conference, and hear from Mayor Sherman Lea and City Manager Bob Cowell, here: