ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — On Monday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced that he’s creating a task force to address violent crime in communities across the Commonwealth.
Leaders in the Star City have been working to address the rising violence while residents in high-crime areas have voiced their concerns to the Roanoke City Council for months, telling city leaders that they feel unsafe in certain neighborhoods.
Roanoke Vice Mayor Trish White-Boyd says Youngkin’s task force will be helpful, but lowering crime rates is going to take some time.
Roanoke residents predict they will see more violent crimes in the near future stemming from constant drug use and fighting.
“What is going to happen eventually is that a stray bullet is going to come into my yard,” one resident said during the Roanoke City Council meeting on Monday, May 16. “How do I protect my family?”
That resident says it’s so bad she wants to move, but that is not an option for her.
“The way rent, food, and gas and utilities have skyrocketed, there’s no way we can move,” she said. “We have to deal with this problem.”
According to Youngkin, there is a clear recognition of a violent crime crisis in Virginia. He says the violent crime task force will work with community leaders, law enforcement, and Virginians in finding solutions.
White-Boyd says whatever the governor can do to get to the root of the problem will help.
“Until we can get our residents or those who are involved to understand that a loss of life cannot be replaced and to understand what they’re doing when they pull that trigger, until we can get to that point, it will continue to happen, unfortunately,” said White-Boyd.
Youngkin announced the task force would provide more law enforcement resources, create alternative after-school activities for children, and address the fear that results in witnesses failing to show up for criminal hearings.
“I think that’s really important,” Roanoke City Councilman Joe Cobb said. “I think again we’ve had a series of events across the nation and we’re certainly seeing an uptick in Virginia.”
Cobb, who also serves as the chair of Roanoke’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission, says the city is making progress on its own, as well.
“We’re finalizing grant awards to organizations in the city that are prevention, intervention, and response-based, and that process will be concluded in the next week or two,” said Cobb.
State leaders have already held several meetings to address violent crime in Virginia Beach, Newport News, Norfolk, and Petersburg. More meetings are planned in the coming weeks.