Public Safety and Services

Public Services Actions

Implementation activities

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Multi-Service Facilities

Community multi-service facilities are proposed as neighborhood-based service centers to provide easy access to City services, community education programs, and other community not-for-profit agencies, acting as an information and referral outreach service.

The idea of multi-service centers was not pursued to any significant degree.

PS A1. Develop strategies that strengthen community-policing (i.e., COPE) efforts between the police department, residents, businesses, and community groups.

Transition to Geographic Policing (2004) complete and moving to next step of geospatial/predictive policing underway

The City is a certified Crime Prevention Community (one of seven in the state).

CDBG funded 1200 hours per year of additional Bike Patrol in Hurt Park as part of revitalization efforts, increasing reuse of safety and security and cooperation with officers among residents.

PS A2. Public safety agencies will maintain or exceed nationally-recognized standards such as the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.

Fire-EMS has been internationally accredited since 2002 by the Center for Public Safety Excellence.  Fire-EMS is an ISO Class 1 fire department.  

Police has been accredited since 2005 and is one of only four agencies to receive a perfect on-site review.  

E911 has been accredited since 2008

Roanoke is one of a very few localities that have all major public safety elements accredited. 

PS A3. Revise zoning ordinance to integrate Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in the development review process.

Zoning ordinance brings buildings closer to streets and, in certain districts, requires minimum glazing on storefronts - address a key CPTED principle of "putting eyes on the street." PD offers free consulting to home owners on crime prevention approaches (e.g., lights, landscaping, etc.). 

PS A4. Promote citizen participation in public safety programs such as the Citizens Police Academy.

Ongoing activities to promote participation:

Citizen Police Academy (2004 Agency of the Year).

Public safety elements included in Leadership College.

Citizens on Police Disciplinary Review Board.

Advanced Citizens Police Academy and Senior Citizen Police Academy established.

Geographic Policing promotes communication between citizens and officers.

PBD, community groups and RNA creating Code Compliance educational program for schools. 

Dare Camp/Chief’s Challenge camp provide unique opportunities to expand interaction with the community by including children.

Business police academy successfully initiated based on the citizen police academy model (60 participants in two sessions).

New police academy will offer opportunities for outreach through use of its facilities (e.g., water training facility, gym) in 2010.

PS A5. Study and promote regional approaches to providing public safety services that ensure their location and operation provide the most equitable, effective, and efficient service to citizens.

Council adopted the Fire-EMS Department business plan which will build three new stations located to improve response.  Headquarters Station, Williamson Road, Melrose completed.  Evaluating plans for replacement of Raleigh Court and South Roanoke.

Working to enhance regional cooperation on three tiers: cooperative staffing (ex. Clearbrook), automatic aid (ex. Salem), and mutual response.  Fire/EMS implemented automatic aid program with Roanoke County (2006).   Department is seeking additional opportunities for cooperation within all of these tiers.

PD and regional partners using intelligence-based, information sharing system in the Roanoke Valley and expanding to the New River Valley.

PS A6. Revise zoning ordinance regarding nuisance offenses to provide for civil fines and on-site ticketing to increase compliance.

Refine outdoor storage and commercial vehicle provisions.

Addressed yard parking

Evaluated use of civil penalties and decided to not pursue.

Code enforcement policy and procedures manual completed to provide consistency in enforcement of City codes by inspectors.

PS A7. Provide code enforcement information to residents and inspectors in satellite service centers.

Placing inspectors in satellite offices is not feasible; emphasis on code inspectors to be in the field rather than in an office.

Printed and web information readily available to citizens.

Maintenance code and Landlord Tenant act frequently distributed.

PS A8. Provide ongoing training for boards and commissions related to zoning, property maintenance, and development codes through certified training programs.

Stipends for Planning Commission and BZA are contingent on certification training.  

PS A9. Revise zoning and other ordinances to address new development patterns and land uses.

Zoning ordinance recognizes new land uses that have evolved since the 1987 ordinance (e.g. cell towers, paintball, freight storage containers).  Also better accommodates flex office/industrial mix.  A new base zoning district, Urban Flex, was created to encourage investment in underused industrial areas (2009).

Homestays/Short term rentals included.

PS A10. Coordinate regulations, where feasible, with neighboring jurisdictions for consistency.

Building Code is uniform

Erosion and Sediment Control is essentially the same.

Stormwater Management codes were developed through a regional effort led by the City, so they are essentially the same.

Use adjacent localities and state-wide review for benchmarking.  Some involvement of region's planning agencies in zoning ordinance development (2005). 

Semiannual meeting of City and County Planning Commissions re-established

City, Roanoke County, City of Salem and Town of Vinton building officials meet monthly (2009) to develop consistent permitting approaches (6 permit applications, housing permit matrix to-date).

PS A11. Increase the use of information technology to improve services.

Information technology incorporated as an integral component of PD crime prevention initiatives.

QAlert Customer Response Management system operational.

e-TRAKiT facilitating an online plan review, permitting, and inspection scheduling experience.

Since 2014, the City's Stormwater Utility has been using iPads with ArcMap Online GIS software to inventory assets of the City's stormdrain system.  Stormdrain asset inventory as of spring of 2018 has been completed in five of the 13 Roanoke River tributaries having watersheds within City limits (Lick Run, Carvin Creek, Tinker Creek, Glade Creek, and Trout Run) and is substantially complete in the Peters Creek watershed.  Since 2018, the City's Stormwater Utility and Office of Environmental Management has been using iPads and ArcMap Online GIS software to collect Stormwater Illicit Discharge and annual Stormwater outfall sampling data.

PS A12. Develop and expand recycling and educational programs that promote its use.

Solid Waste Management continues partnerships to increase recycling awareness.  City schools continue to recycle 7 to 8 tons of material every week. Expanded the recycling program to include bottle and can collection from all schools

Solid Waste is looking to expand contact with neighborhood associations through the Roanoke Neighborhood Advocates in the hopes of improving recycling participation.

Hotel Roanoke is working to become the first complete "Green" hotel in the region.  Solid Waste Management continues to work with Hotel Roanoke to expand their recycling program to include bottles and cans

City sponsored Clean and Green campaign includes emphasis on promoting recycling in the business community (2008) and added the citizens clean and green coalition sponsoring, “Fill you’re your Bin and Win”.

SWM has completed a transition with the city schools, now all schools are recycling bottles and cans

SWM has also completed the expansion of the recycling program with Hotel Roanoke and is now collecting bottles and cans.

City now provides single-stream recycing, the gold standard for recycling programs: a biweekly automated collection of co-mingled recyclables with no need for residents to separate materials.

PS A13. Consider developing a staffed recycling center with a household hazardous waste component.

Roanoke Valley's first regional household electronics recycling event was held in July 2006.  New Household Hazardous Waste collection day initiated.  Collection day is every 3rd Saturday.  Residents must preregister with RVRA prior to the event.

Hollins University sponsored a successful electronic collection waste collection in October 2007.

Household Hazardous Waste collection events are now being handled by the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority.

PS A14. Pursue innovative service-delivery strategies that improve customer service. Increase the use of computers and information technology to reduce reliance on paper and provide greater access and sharing of information.

Continuing increased availability of information resources on; Community Portal implemented; continuously increasing capability for web-based transactions (eChecks).

Public Library System implemented personal computer reservation, print management systems and wireless Internet to enable customers’ efficient access to information.

The Library has also added Mango Languages database. This program provides instruction on multiple languages and ESL instruction for recent immigrants.

In 2017, the Permit Center went fully digital for plan sets larger than 11x17. eTRAKiT is facilitating a fully online experience for plan review, permitting, and inspection.

PBD developed a “department header” and overhauled its web presence to facilitate citizen access to information.

PS A15. Ensure that all public schools and City-owned facilities are located, designed, and maintained to complement neighboring land uses.

Planning Commission reviews new public facilities (2005).

PS A16. Pursue regional efforts for solid waste management and recycling.

SWM participated in a regionalization study as directed by City Council.

Salem joined as a member of the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority.

PS A17. Consider development of community service centers to provide direct services and serve as information and referral centers.

New Fire EMS stations include community rooms..  Renovated/new libraries include community rooms.

The regional 2-1-1 VIRGINIA center in Roanoke offers free information on a wide variety of services, including health, human services, elder programs, day care, recreation and more.