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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Law Enforcement, Community Leaders Announce New Cooperative Effort to Curb Violent Crime

Roanoke C.A.R.E. Aims to Effectively Prosecute Shootings and Violent Crime and Improve Gang-Related Education and Community Outreach

Roanoke, VIRGINIA – Leaders from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Virginia State Police, City of Roanoke Police Department, and Roanoke City Public Schools, joined United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen today in announcing the formation of Roanoke C.A.R.E. 

Roanoke C.A.R.E. is the Coalition of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and partners Acting together to more effectively investigate, and prosecute crimes to Reduce the number of shootings, violent crimes, and gang activity in the City of Roanoke, and to Educate both the school and broader community about the dangers of gun violence and gang life.

“We are committed to working directly with the Roanoke Police Department and our other federal, state, and local partners to prosecute acts of violence, gun-related crimes, and gang activity in federal court,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “I am also pleased to support our Mayor and Dr. Bishop in their critical efforts to curb the rise of organized gang activity in our neighborhoods and classrooms.” 

U.S. Attorney Cullen explained during today’s announcement that the agencies involved  in Roanoke C.A.R.E. will meet regularly to share intelligence on trends, examine crime data, and work to move ongoing criminal investigations more efficiently toward federal prosecution. In addition, partner agencies will work with officials from the City of Roanoke, Roanoke City Public Schools, and community groups to engage residents about the dangers of gun violence and a gang lifestyle.

“The safety of all citizens in the City of Roanoke is the paramount concern of Roanoke City Council. Roanoke City Council has taken several actions to address the issue of violence, including the creation of a community-based task force focused on finding tangible, meaningful, and transformative solutions to gun violence in our community,” said Roanoke Mayor Sherman P. Lea Sr. “Roanoke City strongly endorses this federal, state, and local initiative to address violence within our City and Region as an exciting opportunity to engage all community stakeholders to partner with agencies in implementing effective solutions to violence in the Roanoke Valley. Roanoke City is committed to being an active contributor and participant in this initiative and applauds the commitments of all partners in this program.”

“Student safety is the number one priority of Roanoke City Public Schools.  I appreciate the cooperation of the U.S. Attorney, the Mayor, Chief of Police, and other partner agencies in addressing violence in Roanoke,” said Dr. Rita Bishop, Superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools. “The School Division will be an active partner in confronting the problem.”

“We are looking forward to this enhanced partnership opportunity, and are ready to loosen the ties these dangerous individuals have in the Roanoke Valley,” said City of Roanoke Police Chief Timothy Jones. “When the influences of gang life and violence become focused on our children, the community must collectively respond to protect our most vulnerable members.”

“ATF is fully committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to reduce violent crime and gang activity in the City of Roanoke,” said Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict, ATF Washington Field Division. “The C.A.R.E. initiative is a forward-looking and comprehensive approach to combating violent crime on multiple fronts.  Not only are we focusing resources on more effectively investigating gun crime and bringing criminals to justice, we are also concentrating on earlier intervention in the school to provide students with the knowledge and tools necessary to avoid the reach of gang life and gun violence.  This holistic approach will keep the Roanoke community safer by removing illegal guns and violent offenders from our streets and curbing violence before it begins.”   

“This announcement of the Roanoke C.A.R.E. effort is an exciting initiative for law enforcement and a valuable resource to help protect the citizens of Roanoke and hold criminals accountable,” said Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Washington Field Division. “Combining the unique skills, talents, and capabilities of the participating agencies and resources will enable us to better address the wide variety of significant drug and violent crime threats facing Roanoke-area communities. The DEA is fully committed to helping assist in this critical new initiative with substantial resources and effort.”

“We all see the families who are affected somehow by the violence that's erupting in our communities and schools - theft to fuel a drug dependency; children that are exposed to drugs or gangs on the streets, in the schools or in their own homes; or the death of a loved one from an overdose or some other violent crime - these are hard truths for the community,” said Neil L. Mathison, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division. “Creating this initiative, combining these collective resources, will be a significant factor in addressing violent crime; but law enforcement can't do it alone.  Please work with us, be engaged and report suspicious activity - help us, help you!"

Roanoke C.A.R.E. is part of the Western District of Virginia’s Project Safe Neighborhoods [PSN] initiative to reduce gun and violent crime in Roanoke and Danville. PSN, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts, is an evidence-based program proven effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated October 24, 2019