Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence

The purpose of the Task Force To Reduce Gun Violence is to consider current practices within the City of Roanoke to address gun violence, review alternatives that have been utilized in other communities, and make recommendations to City Council to implement tangible, meaningful and transformative actions to reduce gun violence within the City of Roanoke.

To review the virtual meetings of the Task Force, click here. click here.

For more information, email the Task Force at: taskforcetoreducegunviolence@roanokeva.gov

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October 16, 2020

City Hires RESET Coordinator

Lloyd Merchant has been hired by the Roanoke Police Department as its Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma (RESET) Coordinator.

On Oct. 1, Mayor Sherman Lea and Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman shared results of a recent joint operation with the U.S. Marshals Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force with the community. The operation resulted in the arrest of 138 individuals with 212 outstanding warrants, including the apprehension of an individual involved in gunfire on I-581.  At that briefing, the Mayor conveyed the significance of a continued strong police response to the recent increase in gun violence, while also acknowledging the importance of a comprehensive and long-term response.  Vice-Mayor Cobb shared more details about how the work of the Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence is an element of that long-term response.  The Task Force was created on June 3, 2019, and is now called the Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence.  This group, chaired by Shakira Williams, is comprised of members of the community, including educators, health care professionals, trauma-informed counselors, law enforcement and first responders, youth mentors, and citizens whose lives have been directly impacted by gun violence.

As a follow-up to that briefing, Vice Mayor Joe Cobb and Chief Roman are pleased to announce the selection of Lloyd Merchant as the Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma (RESET) Coordinator.  The position is supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. The RESET Coordinator will be responsible for organizing and recruiting volunteers that will be a restorative program, not an investigative tool. The RESET Coordinator will lead a team of community volunteers to visit neighborhoods after the areas have experienced traumatic events, or they will go to areas where the citizens are continuously affected by ongoing criminal activity. Mr. Merchant most recently worked as a probation/parole supervisor; his employment history also includes positions as a Roanoke Police Officer and Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army.

“As a department, we are excited to bring another level of service to our community that we were previously not able to provide,” Chief Roman says about the position. “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Merchant and his team of volunteers are going to greatly improve the quality of life for individuals in neighborhoods that are continuously impacted by violent crime. Mr. Merchant already has strong, existing ties to the community that will only enhance the work he will be doing.”

Merchant’s position is a key element of what is identified in the Task Force Recommendations delivered to Roanoke City Council in November of 2019. Recommendations can be found here

The combination of intelligence-based, individual-offender focused policing, continued relationship building between the Roanoke Police Department and community members, and the longer-term actions of the Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence are designed to slow the current pace of gun violence and make a lasting difference in ensuring the safety of all residents in the City of Roanoke.

At the Council meeting later this year, the Study Committee will deliver its second set of more detailed recommendations, focused on action items addressing youth and gang activities. 

Roanoke Police Join Mayor Lea, Vice Mayor Cobb and US Marshals to Provide a Response to Recent IncreOn Thursday, October 1, 2020, Mayor Sherman P. Lea, Vice Mayor Joe Cobb,
Roanoke Police Department - VA
Chief Sam Roman and United States Marshal Tom Foster held a press conference addressing a recent response to increases in gun violence in the City of Roanoke.  
The United State Marshals Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force and Roanoke Police worked side-by-side for two weeks to serve active, criminal warrants. Thanks to the tremendous work done by members of both agencies, 212 warrants were served and 138 people were apprehended. This work could not have been done without the assistance of our community. Your contribution is vital to the success of any law enforcement endeavors.
Operation Street Sweeper resulted in the following:
• 212  Warrants Served
• 138 Subjects Apprehended
• 18 Firearms Seized
• $3,761 USC Seized
• 116.2g Heroin Seized
• 458.6g Meth Seized
• 2.73g Crack Seized
• 1 vehicle Seized
“We at the Roanoke Police Department are taking the increase in violent crime seriously. RPD, along with our community, state and federal partners, will use every means available to specifically focus on those individuals who choose to engage in this violent lifestyle,” said Chief Roman. The Roanoke Police Department is currently realigning staff and current resources to address those individuals – you will learn more about that and what it will look like in the near future. This will include a more focused approach on gang culture and organized crime. 
Mayor Lea uRoanoke Police Join Mayor Lea, Vice Mayor Cobb and US Marshals to Provide a Response to Recent Incre Opens in new windowrged the Roanoke Community to work together and reject the premise that gun violence is an acceptable response under any circumstance.  “Today we join together to let you know that we have been working with partners to focus on intervention, prevention and yes, policing.  Through these efforts, law enforcement is identifying and seeking out specific offenders and making arrests that make our community safer,” Lea said.  
The City of Roanoke will also continue working with our partners on the Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence to address long-term issues and impacts associated with gun violence.  For more information about the Task Force, visit: www.roanokeva.gov/taskforcetoreducegunviolence .
Chief Roman had a message for Roanoke residents. “It is important to note the increase in violent crime incidents did not happen overnight, nor will the solution become evident overnight; but together, the community, which includes law enforcement, community based advocacy, prevention programs and a host of additional partnerships -- we can make a difference.  To the members of our community who are dealing with violent behavior and criminal activity in your neighborhoods, we can work together to make an impact on this violent crime. We appreciate you working with us towards this endeavor, as I’m sure that’s what all of us want – a safer Roanoke.” #weareroanoke #roanokeva #roanokestarcitystrong

Meeting Dates

Public Hearing Agendas

Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence Meeting Minutes

Mayor Lea's Statement on Gun Violence

Task Force To Reduce Gun Violence Public Hearing Recommendation Response

Final Task Force Recommendations