Roanoke City's Gun Violence Task Force to meet tonight

ROANOKE, VA. (WDBJ7) - Gun violence has been a topic of conversation not just in Roanoke City's neighborhoods, but in in city council chambers as well. They're teaming up to help find solutions to prevent more violence on city streets.

That led to the Gun Violence Task Force which will meet Monday night at 7 p.m. The group made up of locals will begin forming recommendations they'll eventually bring to city council. It comes no doubt with a sense of urgency, since several people have been shot and killed in the city since the task force's last meeting.

The Task Force was formally established by City Council in June.
It's been charged with developing recommendations the city can implement to curb the violence.

"We're not gonna sit still, we're not gonna back up, we're not gonna be quiet," Mayor Sherman Lea had told WDBJ7 in June. "We're gonna keep working."

Since its creation, the task force has appointed several locals to serve as leaders. Vice Mayor Joe Cobb serves as the council's adviser to the task force.

He told WDBJ7 in July that the group was initiated after council was presented with data on crime rates and gun violence in the city.

"The realization that public safety, law enforcement officials do very ably what they are equipped to do to address these situations but there's a part of the responsibility that lies with citizens," Cobb said.

Data that WDBJ7 requested from the Roanoke Police Department showed that more than half of all homicide incidents recorded in the city in the last ten years involved guns. This year's numbers are slightly above average.

When we talked to City Manager Bob Cowell on the issue last week, he said he told WDBJ7 that he is confident the city will take real action out of what the task force recommends.

"I think the community has an expectation and therefore will hold the organization accountable and those elected officials accountable for what comes out of this effort, to see that there's real progress made on it," Cowell said.

After Monday's meeting, the task force will host two more meetings, two public hearings and will then present a final presentation of recommendations in early November.

Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence Meeting Dates:

All Meetings will be held at the Community Solutions Center, 2328 Melrose Avenue, N.W., unless otherwise noted.

August 12 - Task Force Meeting, 7:00 p.m. - LOCATION CHANGE (Goodwill Youth HQ, 2502 Melrose Avenue, N. W., Suite G)

August 22 - Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence Public Hearing, 7:00 p.m. (City Council Chambers, Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building, 215 Church Avenue, S. W., 4th Floor)

September 9 - Task Force Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

October 14 - Task Force Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

October 17 - Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence Public Hearing, 7:00 pm, (City Council Chambers, Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building, 215 Church Avenue, S. W., 4th Floor)

November 4 - Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence Presentation to City Council, 2:00 p. m. (City Council Chambers, Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building, 215 Church Avenue, S. W., 4th Floor)