Danville Police Chief Scott Booth.

Danville’s police chief, who has been credited with leading a successful effort to turn around that city’s high crime rate, has been named finalist for the top police job in Roanoke, which has been dealing with its own spike in violent crime.

According to a Monday news release from the city of Roanoke, Scott Booth will be the guest at a public meet-and-greet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Berglund Center.

“The City seeks a Chief of Police that will build upon the foundation already established with a continued emphasis on prevention, intervention, and enforcement,” Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell said in the news release. “There is no doubt that Chief Booth has the demonstrated ability to lead the men and women of our City Police Department to execute on these objectives.

“In Chief Booth we have a leader that will work with the community and his officers to ensure Roanoke remains a safe place to live, conduct business, and visit.”

A spokesman for the Danville Police Department could not be reached for comment Monday.

Booth became police chief in Danville in 2018, after a brief stint with the federal government and a 20-year career with the Richmond Police Department before that. 

Danville’s high crime rate was one thing that attracted Booth to the community, he has said. 

“I wanted to be part of changing a community,” he said in an interview with Cardinal News in February.

Since his arrival in Danville, Booth has helped implement a community policing model in an effort to reduce crime and gang violence. 

Danville has seen a 52% average annual reduction in violent crime since the policing model was implemented, according to data from the police department. From 2021 to 2022 alone, violent crime decreased by 21%. 

In 2022, the city saw the lowest number of reported burglaries since data tracking began in 1985, with 76 total. It was the fourth year in a row that a new low had been set. 

Homicides also decreased — to seven in 2022, down from 17 in 2016. 

He also worked to rebuild the relationship between the police department and the community, which was harmed by police brutality during the city’s civil rights movement in 1963. 

In 2019, the Danville Police Department offered a public apology for police actions during the summer of 1963, when civil rights protesters were violently attacked by officers.

“I think for the community, it did speak that we’re willing to take steps in the right direction,” Booth said.

Roanoke’s new police chief will arrive in a city that has been grappling with gun violence. The Roanoke Times has reported that Roanoke has seen at least 21 homicides so far this year, compared to 19 in all of 2022. Late last week, the newspaper reported that the city had seen 28 nonfatal shootings so far in 2023.

Roanoke’s previous chief, Sam Roman, started a new job as an assistant city manager in July. He had served as chief for about three years.

“I look forward to introducing Chief Booth to the community on Wednesday and completing the recruitment process so that he is able to join us as soon as practical,” Cowell said in the news release.

Grace Mamon is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach her at grace@cardinalnews.org or 540-369-5464.