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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. For more information, visit this link.