ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — According to Mayor Sherman Lea of Roanoke, he felt a sense of relief following the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict, but now his focus is on trying to repair and build the relationship between the community and law enforcement.
“It’s like this month and for the past several months there have been incidents that have caused us to take a great pause to what’s going on in our society,” he explained.
Through efforts like his Lea Youth Outdoor Basketball League, Lea says he is trying to facilitate more positive interactions between officers and children in the Melrose community.
“When I first introduced the Summer basketball league what I wanted to do was not talk about or play basketball, I wanted police officers and our young people, especially our young African-American people in the Melrose neighborhood to come together.”
However, Lea says he knows the conversation may not be easy.
“We recognize that issues are going to come, crisis will rise, however if you know one another that there’s a dialogue there.”
According to the mayor, this work is nothing new to the Star City.
“Our officers have been embedded in our community. That’s not saying everything is perfect. That’s not saying we won’t have issues. But, we’re ready and prepared to deal with those and that’s taken a lot of work and I commend the work.”
The Roanoke City Police Department is currently conducting a survey to see what community members thinks of the department’s current service and how it can improve.