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(Roanoke City release) The Roanoke Police Department has hired Lloyd Merchant as its Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma (RESET) Coordinator. On Oct. 1, Mayor Sherman Lea and Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman shared results of a recent joint operation with the U.S. Marshals Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force with the community. The operation resulted in the arrest of 138 individuals with 212 outstanding warrants, including the apprehension of an individual involved in gunfire on I-581.  At that briefing, the Mayor conveyed the significance of a continued strong police response to the recent increase in gun violence, while also acknowledging the importance of a comprehensive and long-term response. Vice-Mayor Cobb shared more details about how the work of the Task Force to Reduce Gun Violence is an element of that long-term response.  The Task Force was created on June 3, 2019 and is now called the Study Committee to Reduce Gun Violence.  This group, chaired by Shakira Williams, is comprised of members of the community, including educators, health care professionals, trauma-informed counselors, law enforcement and first responders, youth mentors, and citizens whose lives have been directly impacted by gun violence.

As a follow-up to that briefing, Vice Mayor Joe Cobb and Chief Roman are pleased to announce the selection of Lloyd Merchant as the Rapid Engagement of Support in the Event of Trauma (RESET) Coordinator.  The position is supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. The RESET Coordinator will be responsible for organizing and recruiting volunteers that will be a restorative program, not an investigative tool. The RESET Coordinator will lead a team of community volunteers to visit neighborhoods after the areas have experienced traumatic events, or they will go to areas where the citizens are continuously affected by ongoing criminal activity. Mr. Merchant most recently worked as a probation/parole supervisor; his employment history also includes positions as a Roanoke Police Officer and Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army.

“As a department, we are excited to bring another level of service to our community that we were previously not able to provide,” Chief Roman says about the position. “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Merchant and his team of volunteers are going to greatly improve the quality of life for individuals in neighborhoods that are continuously impacted by violent crime. Mr. Merchant already has strong, existing ties to the community that will only enhance the work he will be doing.”