Assessment reveals “trust issues” and “open dissension” within Roanoke City Police leadership

By Isabella Ledonne

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – An outside assessment of the Roanoke Police Department (RPD) identifies issues with upper management and public reporting. It reveals there is disagreement and division within RPD leadership.

The group, Center for Public Safety Management, LLC, (CPSM) came to Roanoke in April 2023 and conducted extensive interviews with employees, observed staff and administration and analyzed data. At the time of the assessment, Sam Roman was still acting as Roanoke’s Chief of Police.

After the assessment, they came up with 145 recommendations for RPD to improve its operations.

The 200 page assessment includes recommendations ranging from improving proactive crime analysis, conducting more audits of body camera footage, and rebuilding trust among department leadership.

The report states group meetings with Roanoke’s police chief and deputy chiefs are rare. RPD staff told CPSM there are trust issues, open dissension and poor communication.

The group also learned some management employees filed lawsuits against the police chief and the city, and certain management members would undermine the chief.

The recommendation is to address the division immediately and have RPD leadership work on rebuilding trust.

The report also found RPD is short staffed by 38 police officers. While agencies across the country are regaining staffing levels, Roanoke’s compensation levels and upper management’s lack of support for officers makes RPD the exception.

When looking at the city’s crime levels, Roanoke has higher above-average rates for both violent and property crimes compared to the entire state of Virginia. The assessment noted RPD does a good job in reactive crime analysis, but could improve its efforts for preventative crime analysis.

All 145 improvements are very in depth and specific actions RPD can take to improve its public safety operations.

The report emphasized that RPD, overall, is providing quality law enforcement services.

RPD responded to WDBJ7′s request for comment with a statement.

“This assessment of our agency has been fair, detailed, and comprehensive. The report shows us that there is work to do, but by and large we are providing professional service to our community. We acknowledge that there are recommendations in areas that need improvement, but are committed to making the necessary changes to make our agency thrive and succeed,” Public Information Official Caitlyn Cline said. “We are confident that with the incoming leadership of Chief Scott Booth and the current staff at the Roanoke Police Department, we can use this report to make our agency the best it can be.”

Chief Booth is set to begin his work in Roanoke on October 31, after being Danville’s Chief of Police since 2018. Our WDBJ7 Investigative Team discovered Chief Booth will be making $200,000 a year in the city.

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