Roanoke's Gun Violence Task Force focuses priorities

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Eight people have been shot and killed in Roanoke city streets just this year. Roanoke leaders are working with neighbors to start doing something to curb the violence crime.

Monday night, people from across the city joined to begin making recommendations as part of the newly formed Gun Violence Task Force.

Sometimes big change begins with the littlest of steps.

That was part of the colorful agenda at Monday night's gun violence task force meeting, which included having attendees make their voices heard with small colored stickers.

In the task force's second meeting, Roanoke newcomer Shakira Williams was at the helm.

"I'm very passionate about public health and for me, gun violence is a major public health issue," Williams said. "And so it was just the natural excitement about something I'm very passionate about."

Williams chairs the newly formed task force and the city's Vice Mayor Joe Cobb acts as the city council adviser.

"We want to consider current practices that are already in place to address gun violence in the City of Roanoke," he said, addressing the group with the task force's mission.

Cobb then led attendees to to begin making the first small steps to change.

He gave those gathered stickers to place on poster board boards where they could prioritize proposed initiatives like plans for safe neighborhoods, community engagement events and city planning.

Chief Tim Jones with the police department then shared with the group the hard numbers; how RPD is tracking what goes on in the city.

"Those are significant numbers," he said, pointing to a graph showing numbers of gun-involved aggravated assaults in the city's various zones. "And so I think what you are doing here, speaks right to what this slide indicates."

Williams said she is intent on making sure the messages shared in this room, reach the people who need to hear it.

"We are willing to go out in the community and take the message to them rather than expecting them to come to us," she said.

She's hoping to not only find solutions but to help the community teach a valuable lesson.

"As well as trying to get people to understand the value of life as well."

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)