New police chief pledges to "move the needle" on crime in Roanoke
Scott Booth was sworn in as Roanoke’s police chief Tuesday morning.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Booth said he believes deep community involvement and increased focus and accountability on the part of officers will bring crime down. "We will move the needle," Booth said confidently. "We will reduce crime in this community. A year from now, we will be talking about reduced crime in our community."
Booth said some of the tools and community-based approaches he used in his previous job as Danville’s chief will work in the Star City. "So if you look at what we did in Danville, what I’ve done in Richmond as an officer going through the ranks there, I believe those programs have to have depth. It has to be more than just a photo opp or a media event. It has to be something that allows the community and the police department to build relationships, to connect with each other."
Booth also plans to work quickly to address a department review that found communication and morale issues among officers. Booth said he was able to review the report before Tuesday. "The document, I would find very helpful for moving the department forward. I would have requested the city manager do something like that" at some period after being on the job, Booth said. "My expectation is I will connect and I will listen to them and they will be heard. But they need to understand we are doing to be more focused and accountable and engaged with our community than ever before," Booth advised.
Mayor Sherman Lea said city council is confident that Booth can bring crime down in a city that’s seen a record number of gun-related homicides this year. "It’s not a magic wand," Lea admitted, "but given his background, we’re confident that he’ll make inroads into the community."
City manager Bob Cowell echoed that confidence. "My expectations are not that he brings that magic wand, not necessarily that things can change. My expectation is that he brings his experience and he brings his drive and he applies it every single day."
Booth will meet with local and federal prosecutors on Friday.