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Roanoke police Lt. S.B. Camp chats with people downtown last November after the city increased the number of officers downtown. Police Chief Tim Jones says some businesses didn’t like the extra police presence.

I am responding to a May 13 article in the Roanoke Times on a shooting in downtown Roanoke, where Police Chief Tim Jones lambastes the citizens of Roanoke (“‘Roanoke, we are better than this.”) Some of his quotes were “Come on, Roanoke, we are better than this. If you live in this city and you care, by all means do the right thing. If you don’t, move somewhere else. I have had it with you.”

Also, he states “It’s hard to regulate moral behavior, and obviously there’s not a whole lot of moral behavior going on after 2 a.m. in our downtown”. The article also states “But the police department did beef up its presence at Market Square last fall after a man was stabbed. The department won’t do that again, partly because of mixed reviews from merchants.”

What is wrong with this picture? Wasn’t it a “red flag” to the police chief that some merchants’ business would be hurt by an increased police presence? The only type of business that I can think of that would want less police presence would be ones that cater to drunken, possibly under-age, revelers. What normal business wouldn’t be happy with more police presence? My wife and I are senior citizens who moved to downtown Roanoke last year. We are amazed at all that is available in downtown Roanoke. The restaurants, the shops, and the festivals are wonderful. The Roanoke police on the street are courteous, helpful and friendly. We always feel safe and comfortable when we see police on the street.

Police Chief Tim Jones goes on to state: “Obviously, putting more police officers downtown won’t fix it, because this individual felt perfectly comfortable walking through at least 10 to get a gun and shoot someone.” Is the police chief kidding? Of course, more police officers would make the situation better! Of course, the businesses that rely on drunken revelers in their business model, wouldn’t be happy. Perhaps these merchants should “move somewhere else”.

Police Chief Tim Jones should be less concerned about the merchants that want less police presence, and more concerned about the concerns of the Roanoke citizens. The citizens of Roanoke do not need a lecture on how to behave. How dare you compare us to drunken hooligans that are running the streets of downtown after 2 a.m. An apology by Police Chief Tim Jones to the vast majority of law-abiding Roanoke citizens would be appropriate.

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