VACP recommends shrouding of badges in support of Baton Rouge police officers
July 17, 2016 | VACP
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is recommending that all Virginia law enforcement officers shroud their badges in support of the fallen and injured officers in Baton Rouge, La. Shrouding is recommended through the day of the last funeral service — Monday, July 25.
Funeral arrangements set for officers Matthew Gerald, Montrell Jackson and Brad Garafola
BATON ROUGE — Funeral arrangements have been announced for Baton Rouge Police officers Matthew Gerald and Montrell Jackson, and East-Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola. The men were killed Sunday morning on Airline Highway when a gunman opened fired.
The former Marine and Blackhawk crew chief leaves behind a wife and a 3-year-old daughter. Officer Gerald was 41 years old.
Two public viewing have been set for Officer Matthew Gerald:
Thursday, July 21, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Resthaven Gardens of Memory & Funeral Home, 11817 Jefferson Hwy, Baton Rouge.
Friday, July 22, from 9-11 a.m.
Healing Place Church, 19202 Highland Rd., Baton Rouge.
The service will be on Friday, July 22 beginning at 11 a.m. at Healing Place Church, 19202 Highland Rd., Baton Rouge.
Officer Matthew Gerald will be buried at Louisiana National Cemetary, 303 W. Mount Pleasant, Zachary, LA.
Officer Jackson was a 10 year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department. He leaves behind a wife and a four-month-old son.
Jackson’s visitation is Monday, July 25, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Living faith Christian center, 6375 Winbourne Avenue BRLA
The service to follow beginning at 11 a.m.
Deputy Brad Garafola was a father of four. He’s also described as a good family man. Deputy Garafola was a 24-year-old veteran with the Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.
Visitation for Garafola is Saturday, July 23, from noon to 2 p.m.
Istrouma Baptist Church, 10500 Sam Rushing Drive Baton Rouge
Services to follow starting at 2 p.m.
There will be no graveside service, but there will be a processional from Istrouma to Greenoaks Funeral Home. The family requests that any flowers or arrangements be delivered to the church that Saturday.
A memorial has been set up for Garafola in front of EBRSO Headquarters, 8900 Jimmy Wedell Dr.
Officials confirm 3 law enforcement officers dead, 2 suspects at large
THIS STORY IS STILL DEVELOPING. See WAFB.COM for latest.
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) —
White House officials say the President has been briefed and is being updated. He has offered any assistance necessary to Baton Rouge officials. Governor John Bel Edwards will hold a press conference at 3 p.m.We will be streaming the conference live here and on Facebook.
“This is an unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing," said Gov. Edwards. "Rest assured, every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice. For now, I’m asking all Louisianans to join Donna and me in praying for the officers who were involved and their families as the details continue to unfold.”
Officials confirm that three law enforcement officers have died and several others were injured during an early morning shooting. They also say one suspect is dead and believe it is possible two other suspects are at large.
Five of the officers were transported to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital where three officers died. Two officers remain at the hospital and one is reportedly in fair condition and the other is in critical condition.
Another officer was transported to the Baton Rouge General. The condition of that officer is unknown at this time.
A witness described hearing at least 25 to 30 gunshots in the area of the B Quick store on Airline Hwy. It started shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
“I walked out into the street to see what was going on, there was a man lying in the street," the witness said. "I assume he was dead because he wasn’t moving."
The witness believes the shooting started before police arrived and said, "this was not a come at police shooting."
During a call to dispatch an officer said, "unknown where the shots are coming from."
Investigators are working to determine how many shooters were possibly involved.
“We do know, and do believe there are more than one suspect. That’s why we’re alerting the community,” said Cpl. L'Jean McKneely. “We sending in the robot to see if there are any explosives in the area or any explosives on him.”
Officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office both responded to the scene. Law enforcement officers with both agencies were struck during gunfire.
The scene was contained shortly after 10 a.m., but it is still an active area. Officials are asking the public to avoid the area and to contact law enforcement if you see anything suspicious around your area.
Tensions have been high between member of the Baton Rouge community and law enforcement since Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police July 5. It is unclear whether this incident is connected to the Sterling incident.
Alton Sterling shooting: A comprehensive timeline of events
“We have to heal from this hurt,” said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle. “I’m calling upon everyone to pray today and to cease protests.”
Messages from across the globe have been coming in to the WAFB newsroom.
"Watching your live broadcast in London. My heart goes out to all in your city, the public, law enforcement, first responders and to all at WAFB. I really feel for you all at this difficult time. It really saddens me to again turn on the news and hear of another shooting in the US specifically against law enforcement. I pray peace comes to you all soon."
Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.
Two years after Ferguson, what’s changed for police, activists?
July 12, 2016 | Virginia News
By ROBERT ZULLO | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Experts in police training and policy debate the merits of “warrior” vs. “guardian” mindsets in shaping how officers should approach their jobs.
Perhaps nothing better illustrates that difficult dichotomy than the situation Dallas police faced Thursday, caught in a planned attack that killed five officers and wounded seven others as they worked to ensure that a protest ignited by police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota this week remained peaceful.
“Police officers were there protecting and making sure the protests were peaceful, and they were getting shot at,” said Chernoh Wurie, a 35-year-old former Prince William County police officer and a professor of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“It was sickening. I was saddened for the victims, I was saddened for the police officers. We’ve got to start looking for solutions. We have to find a mediator for the community and the police. Who’s going to build that trust again?”
Wurie, who grew up in Sierra Leone and came to the U.S. as a teenager, said the officer-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota and subsequent calculated massacre of police in Dallas left him battling “a lot of mixed emotions and feelings” as a black man and former police officer.
“I’m definitely hurt and praying for all sides,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Two years since the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., social media, news cycles and political reactions have lurched from one controversial police encounter to the next. But what has changed?
In Virginia, law enforcement agencies are keenly aware of fissures between police departments and the communities they serve and are exploring ways to improve how officers work and relate to the public, said Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
The nonprofit group issued a statement Friday, even as it mourned the deaths of officers in Dallas, committing to “enhancing both basic and in-service training to address proper use of force, crisis de-escalation, racial bias and police-community relations, and in examining our hiring and disciplinary procedures.”
“It takes a lot of good, sophisticated training, which is expensive,” Schrad said. “Budgets continue to decline, while expectations of the public continue to increase. ... In this environment, it’s hard to get people to want to come into policing as a career choice.”
Schrad said the association is working with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Public Safety to add new training curriculum involving the use of force, defusing crisis situations, and improving the integrity of internal affairs investigations. Those subjects have come to the fore as the result of high-profile police shootings.
“It is a complex conundrum, being good community police while being strong enough to handle crisis,” she said. “That takes a mindset that very few people really ever master well.” ...
VACP recommends shrouding of badges in support of Dallas police officers
July 8, 2016 | VACP
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is recommending that all Virginia law enforcement officers shroud their badges for a week, starting today and ending at midnight, Friday, July 15, in support of the fallen and injured officers in Dallas.
DALLAS POLICE FUNERAL NOTICES
July 8, 2016
Contact: Dana Schrad, Executive Director
VIRGINIA ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE CALLS FOR SHROUDING OF BADGES AND SUPPORTS TRAINING ENHANCEMENTS
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is recommending that all Virginia law enforcement officers shroud their badges for one week effective July 8 in support of the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department.
We are deeply troubled by the deaths and injuries suffered by the officers who were attacked last night, and send our sincere condolences to the Departments and to the families and friends of the fallen officers. We also are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths that occurred in Louisiana and Minnesota. We are confident that thorough investigations will be conducted and that appropriate action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigations.
Serving and protecting the residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the primary mission of Virginia’s police agencies, and we continue to stand ready to work with our citizens and community leaders to address the concerns that are prevalent at this time. We are committed to enhancing both basic and in-service training to address proper use of force, crisis de-escalation, racial bias and police-community relations, and in examining our hiring and disciplinary procedures.
These horrific events have deeply affected the law enforcement profession as well as all Virginians. We encourage our police chiefs to have open dialogues and create strong avenues of communication with the communities they serve. We are proud to have police professionals in Virginia who are committed to public service, and who will continue to work hard for the people we serve and protect.
Roanoke County police expand use of beanbag guns following fatal shooting
July 6, 2016 | Virginia News
By Amy Friedenberger | The Roanoke Times
A 24-year-old man stood in a driveway on a May afternoon with a machete held over his shoulder. “Kill me,” he yelled at two Roanoke County police officers.
He approached the officers, who pointed their guns at him and asked that he put the machete down, police spokeswoman Amy Whittaker said. They tried to talk to him to calm him down.
Officers deployed a Taser, but it did not work, Whittaker said. A police dog arrived to the house on Copper Circle, which aggravated the man.
He continued to tell police he wanted to die. At one point, he sliced his arm and threatened to cut his stomach and head, Whittaker said.
Eventually, an officer fired three beanbag rounds, striking the man at least once in the hand, Whittaker said. He threw the machete down a few feet away and lay down on the driveway, allowing officers to handcuff him.
“There was a situation that wasn’t that far away from being another tragedy,” Chief Howard Hall said.
The incident happened May 27, just two days after Hall discussed the final results in his department’s investigation into the police shooting death of 18-year-old Kionte Spencer. The shooting prompted the department to review the number of beanbag guns it has and how to expand the less-lethal weapons to more officers. ...
New Firearms Laws Go Into Effect July 1, 2016
June 30, 2016 | Virginia News
Concealed Handgun Permit Reciprocity & Background Criminal History Checks for Private Sales
RICHMOND – Among the many new laws going into effect July 1, 2016, will be two that impact Virginia concealed handgun permit holders and those engaging in private firearms transactions at Virginia gun shows.
Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit Reciprocity and Recognition: As of July 1, 2016, the Commonwealth of Virginia will recognize all valid concealed handgun or concealed weapon permits and licenses issued by another state (to include the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands) provided the following requirements are met:
- The holder of such permit or license is at least 21 years of age; and
- The permit or license holder carries a photo identification issued by a government agency of any state or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Department of State; and
- The holder displays the permit or license and such identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; and
- The permit or license holder has not previously had a Virginia concealed handgun permit revoked.
Although the new law requires Virginia to grant recognition to all states that issue permits, other states are not required to recognize or authorize Virginia permit holders to possess a firearm in their state. For more information on which states recognize Virginia resident and non-resident concealed handgun permits, please go to the Virginia State Police Website at www.vsp.virginia.gov.
Voluntary Criminal Background Checks for Private Transactions at Virginia Firearms Shows: Also effective July 1, 2016, is the opportunity for those privately buying or transferring firearm(s) at a gun show in Virginia to request a criminal background check on the buyer. Code of Virginia 54.1-4201.2 enacted by the 2016 Virginia General Assembly requires the Department of State Police to be available at every firearms show held in the Commonwealth to make, upon request, determinations in accordance with Code of Virginia 18.2-308.2:2 of whether a prospective purchaser or transferee is prohibited under state or federal law from possession of a firearm in private transactions. A background check in a private sale ensures that the gun is transferred only to a person lawfully eligible to possess firearms and provides evidence to the seller of diligence to protect against the illegal transfer of firearms.
Participation in these background checks is strictly optional and based upon agreement entered into by the firearms seller and recipient. Additional state police personnel will be set up on-site at firearms shows to provide the background check for a fee of $2. The recipient will be required to complete a form attesting to their eligibility to possess firearms and present one, valid, government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, Virginia Identification card) or military documentation. The background check verification conducted through the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center takes approximately three minutes to complete.
For additional information on one’s eligibility to purchase a firearm in the Commonwealth, please go to http://www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms_PurchaseEligibility.shtm
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Former New Kent sheriff recognized with lifetime achievement award
June 29, 2016 | Virginia News
Former sheriff F.W. "Wakie" Howard Jr was honored by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard Holcomb on Wednesday for outstanding service during his 36-year tenure in New Kent County.
Howard received the "Lifetime Achievement Award," which was presented during the 2016 Governor's Transportation Safety Awards at the Virginia’s Executive Mansion, according to a Virginia DMV news release.
Howard received one of 12 Governor’s Transportation Safety Awards, which were awarded by the DMV’s Highway Safety Office.
Howard was elected as sheriff in 1979 and served nine terms before retiring in December 2015. When elected, Howard was the youngest sheriff in the state. He was also the longest serving sheriff among Virginia’s sheriffs upon his retirement.
During his career, Howard served on numerous local, state and national safety committees and was a strong supporter of transportation safety in the Virginia. He has testified or had representatives from his department testify at the General Assembly on various transportation safety topics, the release said.
Howard, his department and his staff received countless awards and recognitions at the state and national levels during his tenure as sheriff, the release said.
“We are happy to take this time to recognize the impressive efforts made by Virginians to help make an impact on the safety of everyone who shares our roadways,” said Holcomb, who is also the governor’s highway safety representative. “What these folks are doing is saving lives and for that, we are very grateful.”
Source: The Tidewater Review
VCU Police wins Governor’s Transportation Safety Award for third time
June 29, 2016 | Virginia News
A dozen individuals and agencies were recognized Monday at the governor’s mansion for a variety of traffic safety achievements across the commonwealth.
VCU Police won a Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the law enforcement category for programs and enforcement efforts completed in 2015. The department won the same award in 2013 and 2015.
VCU Police Capt. Howard “Mike” O’Berry and Capt. Sean Ingram, who oversee operations and patrol, respectively, accepted the award on behalf of VCU’s 92 sworn officers who implemented initiatives and enforce traffic laws year round.
“Each year we look for new ways to educate the community about safe driving and we really went all-out in 2015,” O’Berry said after the ceremony. “It’s an honor to receive the award and a testament to our partnerships in Richmond that help us reach a broader audience of drivers.”
In 2015, VCU Police launched RVA Buzzkill, a multimedia campaign to educate college students in the greater Richmond area about the long-term consequences of underage alcohol consumption.
VCU Police partnered with the Richmond Police Department as well as police departments at the University of Richmond, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and Virginia Union University to send a clear message to college-aged residents: Serve under 21 and the party’s over.
“RVA Buzzkill brought police agencies together to address similar, alcohol-related problems and to be proactive about educating younger city residents,” O’Berry said. “Students don’t always realize the financial and professional costs associated with impaired driving and our goal was to communicate those in as many ways as we could.”
RVA Buzzkill’s multimedia efforts included billboard signage on GRTC buses, radio ads, social media posts and signage for residence halls and medians in the roadway.
Also in 2015, the department participated in educational programs such as Buckle Up, Phone Down to deter texting and driving. It routinely partnered with the Virginia State Police, Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and DRIVE SMART Virginia.
The Governor’s Transportation Safety Awards, established in 1993, recognize individuals and public and private organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to transportation safety in Virginia. Award winners are determined by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Highway Safety Office.
Longtime South Hill police chief to retire
June 28, 2016 | Virginia News
After 47 years in law enforcement, South Hill Police Chief Norman J. Hudson plans to hang up his badge for retirement. His last day will be July 30.
Mayor Earl Horne made the announcement at the end of Monday night’s meeting of the South Hill Town Council.
Hudson joined the South Hill Police Department as chief in 1984 after spending 15 years in law enforcement in Richmond.
“This has been a great job. The town has been good to me,” said Hudson. There was no one event that prompted Hudson to announce his retirement: “I just really decided it was time.”
Horne, who worked with Hudson during his tenure, said he was not surprised by Hudson’s decision. “I hated to see it, but I understand.”
The mayor lauded Hudson for his work, saying, “I couldn’t have asked for a better chief of police. He had the greatest dedication, always going beyond that extra mile to make the citizens safe. During his time, he hired some of the best officers. I believe we have one of the best, if not the best, police departments in southern Virginia.”
Horne and Hudson had an especially close working relationship because South Hill is one of only three towns in Virginia where the chief of police is appointed by and answers directly to the mayor.
“Times have changed and I felt it was time for us to change as well. We are only one of three towns where the Mayor could walk in and fire the police chief at will. It’s [the amendment of the town charter] been approved by the General Assembly.” As of July 1, the police chief will answer to the Town Manager, but only after his or her hiring is approved by Town Council.
In addition to his duties as chief, Hudson has served on the board of the Central Virginia Police Training Academy in Lynchburg since 1991 and as chair of the board since 2009.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to work with the men and women going through training,” he said.
In 2014, in celebration of his then-nearly 46 years in law enforcement, Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt and Virginia Del. T. Scott Garrett of Lynchburg presented Hudson with a United States flag that has flown over the Capitol in Washington.
“It’s been a good 47 years,” said Hudson, adding he plans to spend retirement traveling and tending to his horses, cows, goats and dogs on his farm.
Hudson said he will not be involved in picking his successor. That job will fall to the Mayor, at least until his retirement on June 30, and to Town Manager Kim Callis and members of Town Council.
Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook Announces Retirement
June 28, 2016 | Virginia News
City’s first African American Chief to step down Oct. 1.
The Alexandria Police Department announced late Friday that Police Chief Earl Cook will retire in October after more than 37 years of service to the city.
Cook was appointed chief of police in 2009, the first African-American to hold the position in Alexandria. He began as a police academy recruit in 1979 with APD, and worked his way up to assistant chief, in charge of managing the criminal investigations bureau.
“Chief Cook has devoted his entire career to this community, and we are indebted to him for his dedication and service,” said City Manager Mark Jinks in a statement. “Alexandria’s high quality of life and historically low crime rates are due in large part to Chief Cook’s leadership and the outstanding staff under his decades of command.”
Cook is a native Alexandrian, and grew up on Princess Street. He attended Lyles-Crouch and Mount Vernon elementary schools, Parker-Gray Middle School and George Washington High School through 10th grade. He transferred to T.C. Williams High School after it was integrated, and played on the 1971 state championship football team immortalized in the Disney film “Remember the Titans.”
“As a lifelong Alexandrian, it’s been an incredible honor to serve this very special community,” Cook said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to pursue a rewarding career and work with some of the finest men and women in law enforcement. My retirement is bittersweet; however, I look forward to the future challenges in my life.”
The city has retained the International Association of Chiefs of Police to recruit Cook’s successor from inside the Alexandria Police Department and across the nation. The search will include input from stakeholders throughout the community; and officials said additional details will be announced as they are developed.
Chief Cook's email to the Alexandria Police Department announcing his retirement:
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement from our Department. October 1st will be my last day of work with the Agency. I have dedicated two-thirds of my life to what I consider the most honorable of professions. It has been challenging, exciting and rewarding all at once. I chose to work and serve in my home town and I have never regretted that decision. The citizens I’ve worked with, the many friends in the Community allowed us to work together to make this a safe city with an enviable quality of life. The relationships close to my heart are and will always be the hundreds of APD employees it has been my honor to work with along the way. My pride in their dedication and service, especially those who gave their lives, will remain a cherished memory. For all who still work today, you are our legacy. You are the best. I leave feeling confident of each of your competencies and leadership that will expand on our past successes and reputation. I look forward to following your many accomplishments in the coming years.”
‘I Thought They Were Playing Dead’: Officers Are Haunted by Scene at Orlando Club
June 28, 2016 | National News
By FRANCES ROBLES, The New York Times
ORLANDO — A scene keeps flashing through Officer Omar Delgado’s mind, sneaking into his slumber every time he closes his eyes to sleep.
It is of his first look inside the Pulse nightclub. Dozens of people were motionless on the blood-soaked dance floor, and the Eatonville police officer had just burst through the club’s patio door for a rescue.
“I yelled: ‘Hey, come on, get up! Let’s go! We have cover for you. Police! We’re here,’” Officer Delgado said.
It took a moment for Officer Delgado, 44, to realize that the “signal 43” he had responded to — Orange County police code for “Rush! Officer needs help” — was not an officer down, but a massacre of civilians.
Officer Delgado, who had been working the night shift in a small town eight miles north of Orlando, was in the second wave of officers who responded after the initial shooting. He wound up spending hours inside, saving a few people and watching over the many dead.
“I thought they were playing dead so they would not get hit,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got my flashlight and scanned the room and saw so much blood from where all these bodies were lying. I looked to my left, to a guy who I guess got the worst end of it, and that’s when it hit me: ‘Wow, these people are all dead.’” ...
VCU Removes Suspect Descriptions from Email Crime Alerts
June 28, 2016 | Virginia News
The change was made to deter the development of negative racial stereotypes.
By Corey Byers, PIO, VCU Police Department
Just as other colleges and universities have struggled with balancing the issue of using racial descriptors in timely warnings (crime alerts), Virginia Commonwealth University has been no different, until now.
After working with VCU’s Wilder School of Government to conduct VCU-specific research on the topic, VCU Police Chief John Venuti believes he has found a balance between providing timely information on crimes and reducing the negative stereotypes against certain groups of individuals.
Starting this spring, the university’s police and public affairs staff are no longer including a racial descriptor of suspects in timely warnings (crime alerts) delivered via e-mail. While a full description will still be posted to the university’s public safety page, alert.vcu.edu, emails will instead have a hyperlink to the site with the following notation: For a full description of the suspect/s visit alert.vcu.edu.
“At VCU, the community’s safety is of paramount importance,” Venuti says. “There could be situations which pose a significant risk to public safety in which racial inclusion – and all other available descriptors – would be critically important for community members to be aware of so they could take personal safety measures.”
As a matter of practice, VCU police leaders issue text message alerts for incidents that are active, life-threatening and require immediate action by people on either of VCU’s Richmond campuses.
Subsequent case information is routinely posted on alert.vcu.edu. Police issue follow-up e-mails for more serious crimes, but there is typically a delay in email distribution due to the volume of more than 50,000 emails filtering through VCU’s email system.
Using a hyperlink notation in lieu of a full description was one of the main recommendations that emerged from a report by Dr. William Pelfrey Jr. in the Wilder School. Pelfrey was the principal investigator for a January 2016 mixed method report, “Examining the Role of Demographics in Campus Crime Alerts – Implications and Recommendations for the VCU Police Department.”
Venuti requested the research following years of conversations with students, faculty and staff members about suspect descriptions in crime alerts.
In a May 2014 study by Mark L. Johnson (a criminal justice graduate student), VCU was benchmarked with 30 other institutions of higher education, all of which included race in timely warnings (crime alerts). Johnson found VCU’s practice of including racial descriptors was not only justified, but an accepted practice nationwide that met requirements. All of the examples of timely warnings in a Department of Education handbook include race as a descriptor.
As conversations with historically underrepresented groups continued, however, Venuti wanted to consider alternative modes in presenting racial descriptors. He sought a better way to include a description without traditional verbiage such as, “white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.”
His first idea for Pelfrey was to consider how to use three skin color descriptions, “light, medium and dark.” It was quickly determined that those three descriptors could be highly subjective based on witness reports.
Pelfrey then conducted the mixed method research project, which combined a review of crime alerts issued during a four-year period. He also compiled detailed feedback from focus groups.
Focus group participants at VCU included students in VCU’s Black Graduate Student Association, the VCU NAACP student chapter, VCU student Criminal Justice Association, criminal justice graduate students, faculty and staff members, and subject matter experts who study the intersection of race and criminal justice.
Pelfrey found email timely warnings (crime alerts) were issued for violent crimes such as robbery, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. “Perpetrators are overwhelmingly male and largely black,” Pelfrey’s research found. “It is reasonable to question whether repeated descriptions of crime acts committed by black males could raise, foster or enhance a negative stereotype.”
For years, VCU Police had already started relying on detailed clothing descriptions and getaway vehicle descriptions (if applicable), but Venuti wanted to determine if police were perpetuating negative stereotypes.
While focus groups understood the need for crime alerts, most participants felt that including race could perpetuate a negative perception of minorities, specifically black males. They advised that race be excluded in cases which are several hours old and no longer present a pressing public safety concern. While this issue was a concern for most groups, all of the groups concluded that safety was predominantly the most important concern.
Once Venuti received the final research results, he consulted with VCU’s public affairs office, VCU’s Black Education Association, police leadership, and university leadership. Since police and public affairs staff already use pre-written templates for email alerts, inserting a hyperlink to alert.vcu.edu was a simple update to include in the message.
Venuti believes this revised approach will fulfill dual goals of informing the community on public safety issues and reducing negative stereotypes that influence students, faculty and staff.
“The Department of Education provides very little guidance to intuitions regarding timely warning notifications,” Venuti says. “Balancing the needs of the entire community while doing what is in the best interest of safety is always a difficult task. I think this adjustment in emails will move VCU forward in its own discussions of diversity and inclusion, while still keeping timely warning details available to the public.”
McAuliffe Announces Public Safety Grant Funding for Implementing New Legislative Initiatives
June 24, 2016 | Virginia News
~ Funds are directed toward Protective Order implementation, Body-worn Cameras for law enforcement, and Naloxone ~
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran today announced the availability of grant funding to help local law enforcement agencies implement the newly-passed law prohibiting persons who are subject to permanent protective orders in domestic abuse cases from possessing firearms. The McAuliffe administration also announced new available grant funding to help law enforcement agencies acquire Naloxone, which can be administered to prevent opioid overdose deaths ad to purchase body-worn cameras for officers.
Law enforcement agencies will be able to apply to the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) for grants of up to $50,000 to implement the new domestic violence law and educate their communities about it. The grants will allow them to develop procedures for receiving and storing firearms that are surrendered, and train their officers in the requirements and implementation of the new law.
In announcing the availability of the grants, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran noted that the new requirement is part of a landmark bipartisan firearms legislative package approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, saying, “For the new law to be effective in protecting victims of family violence, it’s essential that our police and sheriffs’ departments be ready to implement it. These grants will help them develop the necessary policies and procedures and deal with the practicalities of carrying out this important law.”
“DCJS provides grant funding for a full range of services for crime victims, including victims of domestic violence,” said Fran Ecker, Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services. “The new protective order law provides a very important tool for protecting these vulnerable victims and we’re looking forward to helping law enforcement agencies implement it effectively.”
The availability of grant funds to help law enforcement agencies acquire Naloxone is a part of the McAuliffe’s administration’s greater effort to fight the opioid epidemic that is impacting communities across Virginia and the nation. Given that law enforcement are often first responders to arrive at the scene of an overdose, equipping officers with Naloxone has proven to be an effective life saving measure. Police and Sheriffs’ departments can apply through DCJS for grants of up to $5,000 to equip personnel with Naloxone, implement procedures and protocols, and further train officers in responding to overdoses situations. This need was identified by the law enforcement workgroup of the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse.
The announcement also included the availability of grant funding for law enforcement agencies to purchase body-worn cameras. Body-worn cameras are an incredibly effective tool for law enforcement officials, supporting improved training, tactical analysis, and situational response. DCJS will provide up to $15,000 per grant for agencies to acquire the cameras, with priority given to agencies that have yet to implement body-worn camera programs.
The grants were secured from federal justice funds allocated to Virginia pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act and the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program. DCJS uses these and other state and federal funds to make grants that support programs and initiatives throughout the Commonwealth and across the entire criminal justice system.
To view the published release, please visit: http://1.usa.gov/28RtkBg
Nomination Period Open for 2016 IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year
June 14, 2016 | National News
CALLING ALL HEROES: CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
Application Deadline: Friday, July 15, 2016
n 1966, PARADE magazine approached the IACP wanting to enhance the image of the police in the United States. Their idea – an Outstanding Policeman Award which would be awarded at the IACP’s Annual Conference.
Over the past 50 years, this award has changed in many ways – from its name to eligibility criteria to its geographic scope and eligibility criteria. But one thing has remained the same – its commitment to highlighting the outstanding and heroic achievements among police officers and the sacrifices made daily by law enforcement’s finest.
Sgt. Philip T. Dwyer
St Louis Police Department
Policeman of the Year 1966
Officer Scott T. Angulo
Tallahassee Police Department
Police Officer of the Year 2015
This year, we are celebrating 50 years of the Police Officer of the Year Award. From the first recipient - Sergeant Philip T. Dwyer of the St. Louis (Missouri) Police Department who’s Chief, Curtis Brostron said at the time “If you had a couple of thousand Phil Dwyer’s, you’d have quite a force,” – to last year’s recipient – Officer Scott Angulo of the Tallahassee (Florida) Police Department who was off-duty when he engaged and killed a suspect in his neighborhood who had set a house on fire in order to draw out and kill as many first responders – the men and women who have earned this award are just a few examples of the exceptional work law enforcement officers do around the country every day.
Learn more about these heroes on our Police Officer of the Year Winners Page.
This year, the IACP is proud to partner with Target to recognize exemplary performance by police officers from across the United States.
Four finals will be chosen and each will receive:
- All-expense paid trip to IACP 2016 in San Diego, California for nominee and 1 guest.
- Recognition at the 10th Annual IACP Foundation Gala, where one finalists will receive the Police Officer of the Year Award.
- Recognition of Police Officer of the Year at the First General Assembly.
- Featured article in Police Chief Magazine.
- All sworn, full-time police officers below the rank of chief are eligible.
- Nominations may be made for exceptional achievement in any police endeavor, including but not limited to, extraordinary valor, crime prevention, investigative work, community relations, traffic safety, drug control and prevention, juvenile programs, and training efforts.
- All nominations must be made by the Head of the Agency/Chief of Police.
- Unfortunately, posthumous nominations are not eligible but officers injured in the line of duty are eligible.
- One nomination per department.
- Time frame for eligible events is July 16, 2015 through July 13, 2016.
Applications are accepted from across the United States and all nominations will be considered equally by an independent team of judges.
IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year - IACP 2015
VCU Police Chief Receives 2016 Dillard Award from VACLEA
June 13, 2016 | VACP
The Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators presented Police Chief John Venuti, Virginia Commonwealth University, on June 9 with the 2016 Robert C. Dillard Award for Outstanding Contribution to Campus Law Enforcement at the association’s annual conference in Virginia Beach. The award is presented to an individual who has made a significant sustained contribution to the advancement of campus law enforcement or security practices in Virginia.
“Chief Venuti’s efforts have demonstrated leadership to all of his peers in campus safety and enforcement,” said VACLEA Immediate Past President Craig Branch. “He has brought dedication and innovation to all aspects of his efforts to keep the VCU campus safe.” In spring 2015, 96.5 percent of students, faculty and staff surveyed reported feeling "safe" or "very safe" on VCU's campuses, according to the school.
“Chief Venuti actively supports law enforcement across the Commonwealth, serving on various task forces to reduce sexual assault and raise awareness about mental health issues on campus,” said VACLEA President David McCoy. “As a colleague, he is always available to provide his insight, debate an issue, or assist when needed, which are traits that support the core values of VACLEA.”
Chief Venuti was appointed to head up the VCU Police Department in 2010 with more than 25 years of experience in law enforcement. He joined the Richmond Police Department in 1984 as a patrol officer and rose through the ranks to major. He also serves as VCU Assistant Vice President of Public Safety. In 2015, he was named Campus Safety Director of the Year by Campus Safety magazine.
The Robert C. Dillard Award for Outstanding Contribution to Campus Law Enforcement is the highest distinction awarded by the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. The award recognizes a campus police chief who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the advancement of campus law enforcement or security practices, and has shown innovation in the development or enhancement of campus law enforcement and security. The award is named for retired University of Richmond Police Chief Robert C. Dillard, who served as a leader in campus police professionalism in Virginia for more than 40 years.
McAuliffe marks signing of revised Line of Duty Act; Va. awards public safety grants
June 10, 2016 | Virginia News
By MICHAEL MARTZ | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A few feet from a state memorial to fallen police officers and firefighters, Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday commemorated his signing of legislation that will transform the state law guaranteeing benefits to public safety employees killed or injured in the line of duty.
The overhaul of the Line of Duty Act won’t take effect until next summer, but McAuliffe and the lawmaker who sponsored it say the revisions will sustain the 44-year-old law and its benefits for first responders and their families, while saving state and local governments $40 million over 10 years.
“This ensures the long-term fiscal sustainability of the program,” the governor said at a ceremony rich in symbolism next to the Virginia Public Safety Memorial at Capitol Square.
Days after adding the names of eight fallen firefighters and police officers to the memorial wall, McAuliffe was joined by House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, the bill’s sponsor, who recalled carrying a man from a burning house as a 17-year-old volunteer firefighter in Chuckatuck only to learn later the man had died.
Jones, who also volunteered as a firefighter in Ashland as a student at Randolph-Macon College, remembered waiting at a hospital four years ago to learn whether his nephew, police officer James Winslow, would survive a severe beating by a man he had pursued for suspected car theft. Winslow survived after emergency brain surgery.
“Most important, (the law) is going to provide benefits over time to men and women, and their families, who serve us every day,” he said.
The effort to revise the law, involving representatives of police, fire, rescue and other affected organizations, grew from a 2014 study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission that sounded an alarm over the escalating costs of the program and its benefits for the state and local governments. The study warned that the annual costs of the program would double in 10 years without changes.
Under House Bill 1345, administration of the program will shift to the Virginia Retirement System from the state treasury department, while the Department of Human Resource Management will administer a unified health benefit program for disabled first responders, their spouses, and dependent children through age 26.
When the program began in 1972, it provided only a lump-sum death benefit for the families of those killed in the line of duty, but the General Assembly added health benefits for disabled first responders and their families in 1998. The sponsor of that legislation, former Del. C. Richard Cranwell, D-Vinton, attended the signing ceremony Thursday, as did Alison Hudgins, the widow of a Chesapeake firefighter killed in the line of duty two years before the law changed.
In addition to police and fire and rescue employees, the Line of Duty Act has expanded to cover members of the Virginia National Guard, correctional officers, ABC special agents, game and forest wardens, and other law officers.
The new law will change health benefits for public safety employees who qualify on or after July 1, 2017, generally requiring them to shift to Medicare after they turn 65. It also would require periodic review of a person’s disability status and end benefits for surviving spouses of those killed in the line of duty after they remarry, as well as for spouses of disabled beneficiaries after divorce.
Public safety grants
Earlier Thursday, the McAuliffe administration announced it is giving $74 million in federal and state funds through 321 grants to programs across the state for helping victims and witnesses of crimes, as well as protecting victims of sexual and domestic violence, court-appointed advocates for children, and other public safety initiatives.
“Many of these grants provide essential services that are not otherwise available,” said Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran at a news conference at the General Assembly Building.
In the Richmond area, the grants by Department of Criminal Justice Services will go to local Victim Witness programs, community corrections initiatives, and Court Appointed Special Advocates for children. In the city, the grants also will help programs for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, delinquency prevention, and services for offenders to transition back to society.
Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael R. Doucette, chairman of the state criminal justice services board, said the grants will allow his office to help victims of domestic violence get final protective orders, which many with preliminary orders do not because of the complexity of the judicial system.
“We are going to be able to have more contact with victims,” Doucette said.
EXTENDED: Deadline for 2016 VACP Award Nominations is now July 8!
June 9, 2016 | VACP
Please take the time to nominate your deserving officers or citizens for the 2016 VACP Awards for Valor, Lifesaving and Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement. An officer or citizen's actions need only have occurred prior to the deadline to be eligible for nomination by a VACP member. (In other words, they are not limited to the 2015 calendar year.)
The nomination form clearly describes the criteria for the three separate categories of awards. Please read them carefully and make sure that the officer or officers you wish to nominate fit the criteria AND you select the most appropriate award category for the nomination. In particular, the Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement Award is very unique and is not simply a “catch-all” category for anything that doesn’t fit the Valor or Lifesaving Award criteria. We recommend reviewing the recipients of past OCLE Awards to see the type of contribution that is worthy of recognition with this award.
Please be sure to include sufficient explanation in the supporting documentation to show that the actions of the officer(s) meet the criteria for the selected award. Nominations for the 2016 awards are open to all actions occurring prior to the July 8, 2016 deadline, so long as they have not been previously submitted for consideration. (Read about previous VACP Award recipients here.)
2016 VACP Awards Nomination Form: Download as Word doc | Download fillable PDF
Please be prepared to provide a high-resolution digital photograph of your Valor Award nominee(s) as they will be requested upon notice of selection for inclusion in the awards program.
The Awards Committee will review the nominations and award notices will be sent to the agency heads in August.
- Recipients of Awards for Valor and Outstanding Contribution to Law Enforcement will be presented with their plaques at the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in Roanoke, September 18-21, 2016.
- Lifesaving Award recognitions will be presented to the agency heads for presentation to the officer at a departmental ceremony.
Albemarle County Announces Hiring of Chief of Police
May 20, 2016 | Virginia News
Albemarle County has named Ron Lantz as Chief of Police effective June 1, 2016. Currently, Major Lantz serves as Albemarle’s Deputy Chief of Police where, since 2012, he has assisted the Chief of Police in planning and directing the many activities of the Albemarle County Police Department including providing supervision for 115 of the 129 sworn officers in the functional areas of patrol, traffic, school resource, crime prevention, and animal control.
In addition, Major Lantz has been responsible for leading the implementation of the County’s Geographic Based Policing initiative which was launched 2012.
“I am elated to have Major Lantz commanding our Police Department,” said County Executive Tom Foley. “He exhibits the highest standards of professionalism and leadership and his vast experience, skill, and integrity made him the forerunner in a considerable group of applicants.”
“As the Deputy Chief of Operations for the past three years, Major Lantz has proven his commitment to providing the best possible police service to our community,” said Colonel Steve Sellers, Albemarle County’s outgoing Chief of Police. “He has been a dedicated, hard-working leader and has earned the trust and respect of citizens, community partners and his County staff colleagues.”
Prior to joining the Albemarle County force, Lantz completed his career with the Fairfax County Police Department by serving as a District Station Commander where he was responsible for 155 officers providing police service to 125,000 residents. While with Fairfax County, Lantz received the Departmental Meritorious Commendation, the Departmental Meritorious Action Award, and the Departmental Meritorious Service Award.
“I live and work in Albemarle County and I could not be prouder of what the Department has accomplished,” said Lantz. “I look forward to continuing to serve the community that I live in as Albemarle’s Chief of Police and to continuing to advance the Department toward a goal of being a premier law enforcement agency in Virginia.”
Lantz received his Bachelors of Science from the University of Charleston with a major in Organizational Leadership. He successfully completed the Key Executive Leadership Certificate Program from American University and is currently enrolled in courses geared towards a Master of Science with a focus on Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Liberty University. Lantz is also a graduate of the DEA Drug Commander Academy, the FBI National Academy, and the Virginia Association of Police New Chief / Deputy Chief School.
Charlottesville poised to hire first black police chief
May 1, 2016 | Virginia News
In a news release Tuesday, City Manager Maurice Jones announced his recommendation of Col. Alfred S. Thomas Jr. for the city’s next police chief. Currently chief of the Lexington Police Department, Thomas will be Charlottesville’s first black police chief.
While the City Council will formally consider Thomas’ appointment during a regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, statements councilors made Tuesday indicate that Thomas’ appointment is a done deal. Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said on Twitter that he was “truly excited that Chief Al Thomas … is coming on board” as the city’s new police chief, although he did not formally comment when asked Tuesday.
City Councilor Wes Bellamy said he was “beyond excited” at the selection.
“People are saying we aren’t changing the narrative, but this is living proof,” Bellamy said, referencing Thomas’s status as the city’s first black police chief. “The city isn’t the same as it was before. We are making great strides.”
Thomas, who has served as the chief of the Lexington Police Department since 2010, will be replacing Chief Timothy J. Longo, who will retire May 1 after 15 years. ...
“Chief Thomas was an excellent candidate who rose to the top of a very deep applicant pool,” Jones said in the release. “He has the experience, the interpersonal skills and leadership abilities we were searching for in our next chief. I am confident Chief Thomas and the dedicated men and women in our department will build upon the great work of his predecessor.”
Prior to his time in Lexington, Thomas spent 20 years with the Lynchburg Police Department. From 1985 until 1990, he served in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.
“I am truly honored to join one of the finest police departments in the commonwealth,” Thomas said. “I look forward to serving the citizens of Charlottesville and building upon the long-standing history of providing exceptional services to the community.” ...
New Altavista police chief is ready to get his hands dirty
April 30, 2016 | Virginia News
Altavista Police Chief Michael Milnor has a lofty goal for this year.
“Between now and fall, I plan to literally try to walk and knock on every door of every business and resident in this town,” Milnor said in an interview Thursday morning, the day after the town announced his hire.
“I’m going to try to take at least an hour or two every day and do that. I’m just trying to make that personal connection with the community again,” Milnor said.
The 53-year-old Campbell County resident and veteran law enforcement officer will split his time between the chief position and attending the New Chief School in Lynchburg until June 6, when he will assume chiefly duties full time.
In the meantime, Mike Jones, who has served as the interim chief since last year, said he will continue to work with Milnor through the transition.
“The whole idea is to make it seamless, and all too often police chiefs don’t get to work with the predecessors,” Jones said in a phone interview Thursday.
Jones was appointed after the former chief, Kenneth Walsh, resigned during a Virginia State Police criminal investigation last year. He since has been indicted on forgery and drug charges, and his trial is set for July.
Jones, the former Chief of Capitol Police in Richmond, said leaving Altavista will be difficult, but he is proud of the changes he brought to the department during such a tumultuous period.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet for me because I put a lot of heart and soul into that, but it’s time for me to turn it over to its new parents,” Jones said.
He will hand over the chief credentials to Milnor during a ceremony on June 6.
Milnor worked at the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office for 30 years until his retirement in December 2012, a month shy of 31 years. Since then, he served as a professor of criminal justice at Liberty University, consulted higher-education institutions nationwide on Title IX compliance and served as executive director of a nonprofit for men recovering from pornography and drug addiction.
But Milnor’s roots run too deep for him to stay away. He said the town’s charm drew him back to Altavista, the community where his grandmother lived out her days.
“I love the fact that we’re here in five square miles and we’re small enough that we can have such a personal connection with every member of the town,” Milnor said. “I think that’s one of our biggest assets, is that even though we’re a small agency and we’re a small town, we can have so much more personalized police service.”
Milnor explained most of his goals are short-term ones. He will spend the coming weeks continuing to knock on doors — he’s already hit a dozen businesses — and trying to hire officers for two open positions.
The department is slotted for 13 officers, including Milnor.
He said three of the officers currently on staff are brand new to law enforcement, a challenge and a blessing at once. What the newcomers lack in experience Milnor hopes to make up for in training, which he said creates a well-rounded department and boosts morale.
This could include anything officers have a niche for, such as sex-crime investigation or advanced vehicle crash training.
“Let’s face it, in a small agency, one of the things you have to fight is the stagnancy. You don’t have a lot of upward mobility as far as promotions and all those things, so we kind of have to overcome that with other ways,” Milnor said.
In the long term, Milnor will assess where the department stands as a whole, considering everything from call volume and scheduling to staffing.
“I’m not saying I’m going to come in and change everything,” Milnor said as policy manuals sat in tall stacks on his desk. “But I think it’s my duty to come in as a new chief and look at it and just see what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong.”
The most exciting part, he said, will be jumping into the town’s daily grind.
“I’m going to be a working chief. You’re going to see me out here working an accident, or you’re going to see me answering calls. Because we’re a 13-person agency, I can’t just sit behind this desk,” Milnor said.
He paused, and then grinned.
“Plus, I’ve been retired three years. I’m ready to get out and get my hands dirty.”
United Front: How five Richmond-area agencies coordinated to address underage drinking
April 11, 2016 | VACP
Five law enforcement agencies in Virginia’s capital launched a public awareness campaign in fall 2015 to communicate the physical, professional and legal effects of underage drinking to college students.
Marketed as “RVA Buzzkill” in Richmond, Va., campaign materials and messages were adapted with permission from the Ohio Drug Free Action Alliance.
RVA Buzzkill united police departments at Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University, the University of Richmond and Reynolds Community College. The Richmond Police Department also participated in the campaign.
The target audience for RVA Buzzkill was students living in the neighborhoods surrounding Richmond-area colleges. Off-campus students lease apartments and houses during the academic year which are prime locations for serving alcohol.
The key message of RVA Buzzkill? “Serve Under 21 and the Party’s Over.”
Rather than simply discouraging underage drinking, or discouraging serving alcohol to those under 21, messaging specifically identified how such behaviors could negatively affect a person long term. Print and electronic materials addressed the following themes:
- The connection between drinking and sexual assault
- How alcohol affects athletes; violations of university and NCAA codes of conduct
- Legal, academic and professional consequences for serving those underage
- Liability for injuries sustained from underage drinking at off-campus properties
“The connection between sexual assault and underage alcohol consumption is so strong that organizationally we felt like we needed to use this campaign to intensify our focus,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti. “Messaging placed a greater emphasis on underage drinking through the lenses of awareness and prevention as part of our efforts to combat sexual assault.”
The following pre-scripted messages are samples of the messaging used on posters, in social media posts and in other formats:
- “If you break the law you could be denied a professional license to practice your chosen profession. This is especially a concern for students majoring in health care, criminal justice and educational disciplines.”
- “Myth: I’m not responsible for injuries that result from underage drinking on my property. Fact: If you allow someone under 21 to consume alcohol, you can be liable if the person hurts someone or damages property.”
- “Each year 400,000 college students have unprotected sex and more than 100,000 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.”
Multimedia messaging efforts included:
- Billboard signage on city buses
- Radio ads
- Social media posts tagged with #RVABuzzkill
- Myth/Fact signs for residence halls and academic buildings
- Stickers used by local businesses on items such as pizza boxes and beverage coolers
- An #RVABuzzkill vehicle on VCU’s campus
- Educational materials for students
The VCU Police Department acquired a wrecked car for placement on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus as a visual centerpiece at an outreach event with police, students and residence life staff members.
“RVA Buzzkill allowed us to align all of our programs and efforts under one umbrella program,” Venuti said. “The program also allowed consistent law enforcement messaging and content across multiple platforms, agencies and jurisdictions.”
Tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff were reached through VCU Police messaging and thousands more saw city buses, media reports, social media postings and RVA Buzzkill signage in downtown Richmond.
A second RVA Buzzkill campaign is in the planning stages for Fall 2016. VCU Police staff had the following takeaways from the collaborative campaign:
- Merge communication efforts on shared problems between campuses and law enforcement agencies in a specific region.
- Create a work plan for one or multiple agencies to manage the distribution of materials and to delegate responsibilities and track the project’s progress throughout the semester.
- Be consistent in using messaging each week on social media to reinforce other printed and media materials.
The RVA Buzzkill project was funded by a Virginia Department of Behavioral Health (VDBHDS) grant to the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (VAHPERD) for school, campus and community media education to prevent underage drinking, and by a Virginia DMV grant to the Virginia Association for Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (VACLEA) to plan campus law enforcement strategies to prevent underage drinking and impaired driving. The program was also supported by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Efforts are already underway to launch a Buzzkill campaign on college campuses in the Hampton Roads region.
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Photo Caption: Two buses in Richmond Va., were wrapped with RVA Buzzkill messaging to reach a citywide audience. The bus routes included the heart of the city and VCU’s campuses --- areas where college students frequent for shopping, dining and entertainment.
FBI-Norfolk hosting screening of new documentary about opioid abuse
April 7, 2016 | Virginia News
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Norfolk Field Office is hosting a premier screening of a new documentary titled “Chasing the Dragon, The life of an Opiate Addict,” on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. at the Cinema Café Greenbrier, Chesapeake.
The film was produced by the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to educate high school students and young adults about the dangers of prescription drug and opioid abuse, and the tragic consequences of addiction. The Norfolk office's goal is to promote the film to local educators and professionals who work with young people and encourage them to consider incorporating the film into their drug awareness program or curriculum. THE EVENT IS OPEN TO THE MEDIA.
Also, here is a link to more information about documentary and the overall effort of the FBI and DEA to raise awareness about the national epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse: https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-dea-release-documentary-film-addressing-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse.
The film screening will be followed by a panel discussion that will include representatives from the DEA, United States Attorney’s Office, and the Tidewater District Medical Examiner’s office,. The panel will also feature a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in addiction issues, and Mrs. Carolyn Weems, a mother and member of the Virginia Beach School Board who will share the story of her daughter Caitlin and her family’s journey. FBI Public Affairs Advisor Michael Kulstad will moderate the panel discussion. Mike was a part of the FBI team that produced the video and has become a passionate advocate of promoting awareness and prevention nationwide.
The crisis involving prescription drug and opioid abuse is unlike any we have ever seen. Statistics show that deaths from opioid overdoses are one of the leading causes of accidental death in our country. In June of 2010, the CDC announced that 1 in 5 high school students had abused a prescription drug. And, as law enforcement has worked hard to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic, heroin has made a resurgence. We are at a critical point and need the support of our nation’s educators.
There has been an overwhelming response to the event. So far, at least 150 RSVPs have been received and they continue to trickle in every day. The RSVPs include educators, health care and mental health professionals, social workers, and first responders.
For more information, contact Norfolk FBI Public Affairs Specialist Christina Pullen at (757)635-6107.
Premier of “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opioid Addict”
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Presentation time: 11:00 a.m. to approximately 1:00 p.m.
Cinema Café Greenbrier
1401 Greenbrier Pkwy, Chesapeake, VA
Refreshments and a special lunch menu offering an entrée and a drink
for $9.99 plus tax and gratuity will be available for purchase.
Public Affairs Specialist
FBI - Norfolk
Thousands gather to remember Trooper Chad Dermyer
April 6, 2016 | Virginia News
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Friends, family and colleagues came together Tuesday to honor fallen Virginia State Police Trooper Chad Dermyer's public service and family life.
Those who know him say he was so much more than a police officer killed in the line of duty. Throughout his funeral service, Dermyer was described as a "humble leader" and "dedicated police officer."
Cyndi Grace, who worked alongside Dermyer at the Newport News Police Department, reflected on their friendship and his "megawatt" smile.
One trooper who graduated from the academy with Dermyer said they called him Superman because they felt like he could do anything.
The final goodbye held inside the sanctuary of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton was a service fit for a hero. At least 3,500 people were there, including 200 family members. 23 other state police/highway patrol agencies from California, Utah, Florida and Maine, as well as Aurora, Illinois PD, Chicago PD, and NYPD were also in attendance, according to Virginia State Police.
The 37-year-old trooper is a hero and saved lives the day he was gunned down inside the Richmond Greyhound bus station.
"His power of observation, his instinct played out that day and he identified a murderer, unfortunately he paid the ultimate price for his skill," said Virginia State Police superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty.
But the focus on this dark day in law enforcement was on how Trooper Dermyer lived.
"He had integrity," said Col. Flaherty. "He had fortitude, character, he was fair-minded and Lord knows he had compassion for other people."
And above all things, he lived for his family, which includes his wife, son and daughter.
"Your father loved you very much, you always made him so proud," said Cyndi Grace. "Paige-y, daddy's little girl. Your dad told me how smart and beautiful you are, and he was so proud of his baby girl. Growing into a wonderful young lady who looks exactly like his beautiful wife."
It's a family now left without a father and husband, but gains an extended family in blue.
Trooper Dermyer followed in his father's footsteps and is also a Marine. He was also a police officer in his hometown in Jackson, Michigan and Newport News before becoming a state trooper.
Dermyer was laid to rest in Gloucester County, where the Marine Corps did a 21 guns salute.
Dermyer died Thursday after being shot at the Greyhound bus station in Richmond. Click here for full coverage of the shooting and more on Trooper Dermyer.
Cardounel named Henrico Police Chief
April 5, 2016 | Virginia News
Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas announces the appointment of Henrico Police Maj. Humberto “Hum” Cardounel Jr. as police chief, effective April 15.
Cardounel joined the Henrico Police Division as a patrol officer and a SWAT Team medic in 1988. He currently serves as deputy chief for the Investigative Bureau and a member of the chief’s executive staff.
Humberto_CardounelHe has risen through the agency’s ranks from officer and investigator to sergeant, command sergeant, lieutenant, captain and major, a position assigned in 2015. He also has served as deputy chief for the Patrol Bureau, led the Criminal Investigations Section, developed and implemented the Homeland Security Section, and provided leadership and service to the Training Academy, Internal Affairs Unit, Media Relations Unit, Organized Crime Section and Personnel Unit.
A graduate of Douglas S. Freeman High School, Cardounel holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.
As police chief, Cardounel will oversee an agency responsible for providing law enforcement for Henrico’s more than 325,000 residents and a community covering 244 square miles. The Police Division has 624 sworn police officers and a budget of $69.2 million for fiscal 2015-16. Cardounel will be sworn in during a ceremony April 15. He will become the 16th individual to serve as Henrico police chief since 1915.
Funeral arrangements announced for Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer
March 31, 2016 | VACP
The VACP recommends that Va. law enforcement officers shroud their badges in honor of Virginia State Police Trooper Chad Dermyer who was shot and killed Thursday afternoon in Richmond. Shrouding is recommended through the day Trooper Dermyer's funeral — Tuesday, April 5.
Our sincerest condolences to Trooper Dermyer's family and friends and to the Virginia State Police.
Trooper Dermyer is survived by his wife and two children.
Monday, April 4, 2016
3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Liberty Baptist Church
1021 Big Bethel Road
Hampton, Virginia 23661
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Liberty Baptist Church
1021 Big Bethel Road
Hampton, Virginia 23661
Burial will be for family members, VSP Executive Staff, Area 46, CCI, 122nd Basic Session, and Newport News Police personnel only.
NO media will be allowed access to the Visitation or the Burial.
VSP is still working with the family in regards to media access to the Funeral service… and will follow up later Sunday with that information.
The Dermyer family does not want to be approached by any media and VSP asks that you continue to respect their privacy.
The Virginia State Police Association (VSPA) is accepting donations to help the Dermyer family. Checks should be addressed to VSPA Emergency Relief Fund and please note on the “Memo” line that your donation cites Trooper Dermyer.
Donations can be made online or checks can be mailed or dropped off at:
Virginia State Police Association
6944 Forest Hill Ave.
Richmond, VA 23225
Virginia State Police Trooper & Two Citizens Shot at Richmond Bus Terminal
RICHMOND, Va. – A Virginia State Police trooper has died as a result of his injuries after being shot Thursday afternoon (March 31) at the Greyhound Bus station in the 2900 block of North Boulevard in the City of Richmond.
At approximately 2:40 p.m. Thursday, Virginia State Police Trooper Chad P. Dermyer approached a male subject just inside the front doors of the bus station. During the course of talking with the male subject, the male pulled out a handgun and shot the trooper multiple times. As the male subject continued firing his weapon, two state troopers, who were nearby, returned fire. The male suspect then moved into the terminal’s restaurant.
The shooter continued to be combative as police took him into custody and EMS crews tried to render aid to him. He was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon. His remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for autopsy and examination. State police have confirmed the male subject’s identification, but are still in the process of notifying his next of kin. His name will not be released until next of kin is formally notified. The suspect’s handgun was recovered at the scene.
During the course of the gunfire, two adult females inside the bus terminal were also shot. Both were transported to VCU Medical Center and are being treated for of non-life threatening injuries.
No other law enforcement personnel or civilians were injured in the shooting.
Trooper Dermyer was among approximately a dozen state police troopers participating in a specialized training on criminal interdiction practices. They had completed the classroom instruction and were conducting field practicals at the time the shooting occurred. Trooper Dermyer’s encounter with the male subject was part of the training. Trooper Dermyer was in uniform at the time of the shooting.
Trooper Dermyer, 37, was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon.
Trooper Dermyer, a Jackson, Mich. native, graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy November 2014. His original patrol assignment was to the Chesapeake Division’s Area 46 Office, which encompasses the cities of Newport News and Hampton. He had just recently transferred to the state police Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit. Prior to joining the state police, Trooper Dermyer served with the City of Newport News Police Department and the Jackson, Mich., Police Department. Trooper Dermyer also served our nation for four years with the U.S. Marine Corps. He is survived by his wife and two young children.
The City of Richmond Police Department immediately responded to the scene to assist State Police with securing the scene, interviewing witnesses and evidence collection. Additional law enforcement resources from the FBI, ATF, US Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service, and Henrico County Police responded to the scene to assist, as well.
The investigation remains ongoing at this time.
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Virginia Tech Police earn second IACLEA reaccreditation
March 9, 2016 | Virginia News
BLACKSBURG, Va., March 7, 2016 – The Virginia Tech Police Department has earned its second reaccreditation from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). The department was first accredited in 2010.
IACLEA accreditation is awarded for a three-year period. The accreditation will be formally recognized at the association’s annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona in June.
“The IACLEA accreditation recognizes that our police department conforms to the highest professional standards specific to campus law enforcement,” said Virginia Tech Police Chief Kevin Foust. “These high standards are essential to the success of our police department fulfilling its mission to protect our students, employees, and visitors.”
In addition to the IACLEA accreditation, the Virginia Tech Police Department has received seven consecutive re-accreditations from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Incorporated (CALEA), last awarded in 2015.
IACLEA requires departments with CALEA accreditation to demonstrate and document nine additional standards that focus specifically on four campus enforcement and safety issues — annual campus security report, emergency access and response, physical security, and personal safety.
The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) advances public safety for educational institutions by providing educational resources, advocacy, and professional development services. IACLEA is the leading voice for the campus public safety community. IACLEA membership represents more than 1,200 colleges and universities in 20 countries. In addition to the colleges and universities, which are institutional members, IACLEA has 2,200 individual memberships held by campus law enforcement staff, criminal justice faculty members, and municipal chiefs of police.
The Virginia Tech Police Department is a full-service nationally accredited agency with 50 full-time sworn police officers who have jurisdiction and legal authority on all university-owned property and a number of security guards, campus watch officers, and safe ride officers.
Foster selected as new Vinton police chief
March 4, 2016 | Virginia News
The Town of Vinton is pleased to announce that it has selected its next Police Chief. Thomas L. Foster, a First Sergeant with the Virginia State Police, has accepted the position and will take over the department in March.
”Foster was selected after interviewing a pool of very qualified candidates,” says Vinton Mayor Bradley Grose. “The Town is very pleased to have someone of his caliber come in and lead the qualified and extremely dedicated officers in our great police department.”
Foster has served three decades in law enforcement, including 27-years with the Virginia State Police. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development School. Foster also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Virginia Tech, and graduate certificates from the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.
“I am looking forward to becoming a part of the Vinton community, getting to work and learning as much as I can about the department and the outstanding people who are already in place here,” says Foster. “Hopefully, the experiences I’ve had and the different roles I have played in law enforcement will serve me well in this new position.”
During his tenure with the Virginia State Police, Foster supervised both uniform patrol operations and criminal investigative units. He also has served as the department’s public information officer and an internal affairs investigator, in the Bureau of Professional Standards. Foster also serves as an adjunct professor in the Administration of Justice program at Virginia Western Community College.
His roots as public servant run deep as his late father, Sheriff O. S. Foster, served five terms as Sheriff of Roanoke County from 1967-1987 and was also a former Virginia State Trooper.
“Chief Foster brings a wealth of knowledge to our town and we believe we have hired an individual who not only understands law enforcement and public safety, but also the people of southwest Virginia,” says Interim Vinton Town Manager Barry Thompson. “He will be a tremendous asset to our community.”
Foster will be formally appointed and sworn-in at the Town Council meeting on March 15 and his first day on the job will be Wednesday, March 16. He replaces Benjamin Cook who retired as Chief last October after 14 years with the department. Law enforcement veteran Jeff Dudley has served as Vinton’s Interim Police Chief since October 26, 2015.
Foster’s wife, LeAnne, is a Special Education Teacher with Roanoke County Schools. The couple has two children, Logan who is a student at Virginia Western Community College, and Reagan who is student at Northside High School.
Funeral Arrangements Announced for Prince William Co. Police Officer Ashley Guindon
February 28, 2016 | VACP
The VACP recommends that all Va. law enforcement officers shroud their badges in honor of Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon through the day of her funeral — Tuesday, March 1.
Our sincerest condolences to Officer Guindon's family and friends and to the Prince William County Police Department.
We also send our thoughts and prayers to the two Prince William Coutnty police officers wounded in the same incident Saturday night and to their families. They have now been identified as Officer Jesse Hempen, 31, and Officer David McKeown, 33. Both remain hospitalized but are expected to recover.
Viewing & Funeral — March 1, 2016 (Tuesday)
- Viewing from 10:00 am – 12:00 noon
- Service at 12:00 noon
Location for Viewing & Service
The Hylton Memorial Chapel
14640 Potomac Mills Road
Woodbridge, VA 22192 (EXIT 56 off I-95)
PLEASE NOTE: The general public is welcome; however there are space limitations, so arrive early if you want to attend. PWCPD is also hoping to live stream the service. The department appreciates the outpouring of support during this difficult time.
**Special Information for Law Enforcement planning to attend will be coming over VCIN.**
Officer Ashley Guindon Memorial Fund (Updated)
In response to the outpouring of generosity from friends around the world, the Prince William County Police Association has created an account for anyone that wishes to donate money to the family in memory of Officer Ashley Guindon. The Association will be receiving all funds and then sending them directly to Ashley’s mother. If possible, checks should be made payable to “PWCPA in memory of OFC Ashley Guindon.”
You are welcome to stop by one of PWCPD's stations with a donation; or, mail directly to:
Prince William County Police Association
Officer Guindon Memorial Fund
P. O. Box 1845
Manassas, VA 20108
Prince William County Police Department Press Release
Officer Ashley Guindon
Officer Jesse Hempen
Officer David McKeown
The Prince William County Police Department is in deep mourning over the loss of Officer Ashley Guindon. Our sincere condolences go out to Ashley's family and friends, as well as, our fellow officers and department staff. We are asking for thoughts and prayers as we monitor the conditions of the two officers who remain hospitalized. We greatly appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from our Prince William County community and from those across the nation and world. We continue to ask for that support as we move forward with making final arrangements to honor Ashley's sacrifice.
On February 27 at 5:37PM, officers responded to a residence located in the 15000 block of Lashmere Ct in Woodbridge (22192) for an initial report of a domestic altercation. When officers arrived on scene, they approached the front door of the home and were confronted by a suspect, later identified as the accused. The accused was armed with a firearm and opened fire, striking three county police officers who sustained critical wounds. Additional officers arrived at the residence and the accused surrendered to police without further incident. Officers also provided life-saving first aid to the wounded officers until Fire & Rescue crews could get on scene. All three officers were flown to Fairfax INOVA Hospital where one of the officers, identified as Officer Ashley Guindon, died as a result of her injuries.
After securing the suspect, officers conducted a search of the home and located an adult woman inside deceased from gunshot related injuries. An 11-year old boy was also inside the residence at the time of the incident and fled the home at some point during the encounter. The child was not injured and will be released to the custody of other family members. The investigation revealed that the accused and his wife were involved in a verbal altercation which escalated physically. The wife was able to contact police; however, before officers could arrive, she was allegedly shot and killed by the accused. The remaining two officers shot during the encounter remain hospitalized at this time. Following the investigation, the accused was arrested and charged. More information will be released when available.
This is Prince William County's fourth line of duty death since the department's inception in 1970 and only the second officer to be killed feloniously in the line of duty.
Arrested on February 27:
Ronald Williams HAMILTON, age 32, of 13051 Lashmere Ct in Woodbridge
Charged with 1 count of captial murder of a police officer, 1 count of first degree murder, 2 counts of malicious wounding of a police officer, and 2 counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony
Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond
Crystal Sheree HAMILTON, age 29, of Woodbridge
Prince William County Police Officer Ashley GUINDON, age 28
Last evening was Officer Guindon's first shift after being sworn-in as a police officer on February 26.
Prince William County Police Officer Jesse HEMPEN, age 31, an 8.5 year veteran of the police department
Prince William County Police Officer David MCKEOWN, age 33, a 10 year veteran of the police department
Man charged in killing of Va. police officer day after she was sworn in is identified as Army sergeant
From The Washington Post
The Army staff sergeant charged with killing one Prince William County police officer and injuring two others on Saturday opened fire as they arrived at his front door to investigate a domestic altercation, the Prince William County police chief said Sunday.
Chief Stephan M. Hudson said at an afternoon news conference that Ronald Williams Hamilton, 32, also shot and killed his wife in their Woodbridge home, before the officers arrived on the scene. Crystal Hamilton, 29, had placed the initial call to police.
“A subject inside the home opened fire striking three officers who sustained critical wounds,” Hudson said. “Additional officers arrived at scene and secured subject.”
Hudson said the two injured officers, Jesse Hempen and David McKeown, remain hospitalized and are expected to recover.
Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert said at the news conference that he is considering pursuing the death penalty against Hamilton, who is currently facing six charges including murder of a police officer and first-murder.
Hudson said Officer Ashley Guindon succumbed to her injuries Saturday evening, while undergoing treatment at Fairfax Inova Hospital. Guindon was on her first street patrol, after being sworn in as an officer Friday.
The shooting happened around 5:40 p.m. in the 13000 block of Lashmere Court in Woodbridge, almost as soon as officers arrived, Hudson said. Police said the couple’s 11-year-old son was in the home at the time of the incident and fled the home at some point during the encounter. He was not injured and has been placed in the care of relatives.
Police said Hamilton and his wife were involved in a day-long verbal altercation that escalated physically.
Hamilton’s family and the Army said he was an active-duty staff sergeant based at the Pentagon and worked in information technology. He is being held without bond and is scheduled to arraigned Monday.
All three officers were flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital after the shooting.
The alleged gunman’s father, Ronald Williams Hamilton, a retired major with the Charleston, S.C. Police Department, said in a brief interview with The Post that he and his family learned about the shooting Saturday night and are shocked.
He said he does not know any details about the shooting, but said his son had a “very good upbringing.” The elder Hamilton said his son joined the Army at age 18.
“We are grieving the same as all the people in Prince William County, as well as the law enforcement community across the United States,” Hamilton said. “Ronald has always been a calm person and a very friendly person. He had a bright future with the Army and military. We express our thoughts and condolences to everyone who is affected.”
Guindon was identified in reference material as a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics. She served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and had relatives in law enforcement.
“This is the third call for shooting I’ve had since I’ve been in the office,” Ebert said. “It always takes a toll on the department. It’s a tragedy.”
Guindon worked for a time at a funeral home because she was thinking about becoming a medical examiner, a former co-worker said. Danielle Everly, who is a funeral director at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home in Alexandria, said she and Guindon overlapped for about three months when Everly was a funeral director apprentice and Guindon was an assistant at the Everly Funeral Home in Fairfax City.
“She was a very kind and compassionate person,” Everly said Sunday morning. “Always smiling. Very pleasant to be around.”
As part of her duties, Guindon would assist in greeting and helping mourners, and she would sometimes accompany a funeral director to the medical examiner’s office. But she was not licensed or experienced enough to assist in preparing bodies for burial.
Online information indicated that Guindon graduated from Merrimack High School in New Hampshire in 2005 and had held a license to fly historical aircraft. A person familiar with her Marine Corps service said she held the rank of corporal and was assigned to a unit at Bolling Air Force Base involved with sending home the remains of fallen Marines.
The slain officer had been assigned to patrol duty in the eastern part of the suburban Virginia county.
Zacarius Harris, 18, said he saw Hamilton’s 11-year-old son running away from the house, wearing a T-shirt and basketball shorts. He was looking back at the houses as he ran down the street. The boy ended up at a neighbor’s.
“He ran so fast I can’t even imagine how scared he must have been,” Harris said.
“It broke my heart,” he said.
A woman who lives on Lashmere Court said she was visiting a neighbor and heard sounds, but did not think gunfire could have broken out on her quiet and close-knit street.
“We never thought it could be shots,” Maritza Gutierrez said.
She said she heard “boom, boom, boom. Something like that.” It was, she said, “very quick.”
Then emergency personnel arrived, and she looked outside to determine what had happened.
She said she saw someone, apparently one of the wounded officers, lying prone on a lawn. Emergency personnel were administering aid.
Finally, Gutierrez said, the patient was taken to an ambulance.
Officer fatally shot on her first day on street in Prince William County, Va.
A Prince William County police officer was shot and killed Saturday evening on her first day on the street when she responded to a call about a possible domestic matter, authorities said.
Two other officers were shot and wounded.
The slain officer was identified by police as Ashley Guindon. No information was available about the other two. All three were flown by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital.
One person was taken into custody in connection with the shooting, but no information about the individual had been released as of late Saturday.
The gunfire broke out about 5:30 p.m. in the 13000 block of Lashmere Court, a relatively short residential street in the Woodbridge/Lake Ridge area south of the county government administration center.
Guindon was identified in reference material as a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., who held a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics. She served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and had relatives in law enforcement.
Online information indicated that she graduated from Merrimack high school in New Hampshire in 2005, and had held a license to fly historical aircraft. A source familiar with her Marine Corps service said she held the rank of corporal and was assigned to a unit at Bolling Air Force Base involved with sending home the remains of fallen Marines.
The slain officer had been assigned to patrol duty in the eastern part of the Virginia suburban county. A police tweet indicated that she had been sworn in only Friday.
The nature of the domestic disagreement that brought the officers to the site was not made clear.
However, Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large), who is chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, said a woman apparently was killed in connection with the incident.
Sgt. Jonathan Perok, a police spokesman, said he could not confirm that account.
A woman who lives on Lashmere Court said she was visiting a neighbor and heard sounds but did not think gunfire could have broken out on her quiet and close-knit street.
“We never thought it could be shots,” said Maritza Gutierrez.
She said she heard “Boom, boom, boom. Something like that.” It was, she said, “Very quick.”
Then emergency personnel arrived, and she looked outside to determine what had happened.
She said she saw someone, apparently one of the three wounded officers, lying on a lawn.
Emergency personnel were administering aid, and it appeared that the officer’s uniform had been removed to facilitate the treatment.
Finally, Gutierrez said, the patient was taken from the lawn to an ambulance.
House panel kills bill to allow police officers’ names to be kept private
February 26, 2016 | Virginia News
By GRAHAM MOOMAW | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A controversial bill that would have allowed police officers’ names to be kept secret was killed by a unanimous vote Thursday in a House of Delegates subcommittee.
The legislation, which was beginning to draw national attention as an audacious step to protect officers at a time of increased scrutiny on law enforcement, was defeated by a seven-member subcommittee that deals with open-records issues.
Supporters of the bill, Senate Bill 552, argued that officers’ names could be used by anyone to look up personal information on the Internet, such as a home address.
Del. Joseph R. Yost, R-Giles, said in the era of Facebook and Twitter, names are already public.
“I don’t see, in my mind, having an individual’s name out there as being a threat to safety of others,” said Yost, who made the motion to table the bill. “We all have our names out there in some way, shape or form.”
“It can even be the counselor for MS-13,” he said, referring to the infamous criminal gang. “We’ve got to think in those terms.”
Cosgrove and others said the ability to withhold names would be applied sparingly to protect undercover officers or officers subject to pending investigations by internal affairs.
“I know this is a pretty bold step,” Cosgrove said. “I will tell you that I feel the press has grossly mischaracterized this in their reporting.”
In a public hearing Thursday, several speakers told stories of FOIA being used to spot political patronage, wasteful spending and problem officers, which they argued would not be possible without the ability to match actions with names.
Representatives of various law enforcement agencies said they feared the wide release of officer names online.
“When you put the officers’ name out there on the Internet now, with the ability people have to find people, they’re going to find out where they live and they’re going to have the opportunity to kill them and do other bad things to their family,” said Kevin Carroll, president of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police.
Carroll also ticked off stories of officers being killed at their homes, but he ended each anecdote by saying it wasn’t clear how the assailants found the officer’s address.
Personal information such as phone numbers and home addresses is already exempt under the state’s FOIA law. Opponents of the bill pointed out that FOIA exemptions already exist to protect undercover officers and tactical plans.
Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said the “ultimate employers” of law enforcement officers are the public.
“We cannot monitor them if we don’t know who they are,” Rhyne said.
Del. Richard L. Anderson, R-Prince William, called the bill “difficult” and suggested it be wrapped in to the ongoing, three-year FOIA study.
“I want to see this get a deeper and more fair hearing,” Anderson said. “Because our officers merit protection. Those who wish to defend this principle of openness in a constitutional republic, that is a valid concept too.”
Governor McAuliffe Signs Historic Bipartisan Public Safety Legislation into Law
February 26, 2016 | Virginia News
RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe today finalized a historic bipartisan agreement to make Virginia safer by signing three key pieces of legislation into law. Joined by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Democratic and Republican legislators, law enforcement officials, Virginia prosecutors and domestic violence prevention advocates at a signing ceremony in the Virginia Executive Mansion, the Governor thanked the leaders who worked with him and his team to make this agreement a reality.
“The historic bipartisan agreement will make Virginia safer by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and people who cannot pass background checks,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Virginians elect their leaders to work together to get things done, and today I am proud to say we did just that. This is the most significant step forward on gun safety in 24 years, and I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly and the public safety community to build on the progress we made this session.”
The three bills signed by Governor McAuliffe were part of a bipartisan agreement with the General Assembly to pass legislation requiring any person who is subject to a permanent protective order for family abuse to relinquish his or her guns within 24 hours or face a Class 6 felony. The bill, which had been defeated for many years in the General Assembly, will give Virginia one of the strongest laws in the nation with regard to taking guns away from domestic abusers.
“Governor McAuliffe’s action today will unequivocally improve public safety in the Commonwealth and save lives,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The law signed today will be the toughest in the country on permanent protective orders for family abuse.”
The General Assembly also passed legislation granting Virginia State Police the statutory authority to run background checks for non-federally licensed vendors at gun shows. Previously, private firearm sellers who did not possess a federal license could not access the federal background check system – meaning they could not run background checks even if they wanted to. According to the agreement, Virginia State Police will now attend every gun show in the Commonwealth and offer background checks to every vendor who wants one.
Finally, as part of the agreement, Governor McAuliffe agreed to sign legislation passed by a bipartisan majority of the General Assembly recognizing concealed carry permits from other states. The legislation will also protect the right of Virginia concealed carry permit holders to carry a concealed handgun in states that demand such reciprocity agreements.
“This bipartisan agreement is a major step toward securing the Second Amendment rights of Virginia’s most law-abiding citizens,” said House Speaker William J. Howell. “I am also proud of the steps we are taking on public safety. I want to thank Governor McAuliffe for signing this legislation, and I thank Secretary Moran, Delegate Gilbert, Delegate Lingamfelter, Delegate Webert, and Senator Reeves for their hard work to make this agreement a reality.”
Senator Bryce Reeves added, “Today's bill signing culminates a month of bipartisan work and good governance on behalf of all Virginians. The bills signed today protect Virginians' constitutional rights and make our Commonwealth safer. I am proud to have carried Senate Bill 610 this year, protecting the rights of 421,000 law-abiding Virginians who hold concealed carry permits. I am glad to have the Governor's support on this measure with his signature today."
“I want to commend Governor McAuliffe and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who came together around an agreement that will make Virginia a safer place to live,” said Senator Janet Howell. “No compromise is perfect, but these three bills will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and people who can’t pass background checks. I am proud to have worked with the Governor and my colleagues from both chambers and both parties to make the most significant steps forward on gun safety in Virginia in decades.”
Prince William County Police Chief Steve Hudson Announces Retirement
February 23, 2016 | Virginia News
On February 11, Prince William County Police Chief Steve Hudson publicly announced his plans to retire from the police department. Chief Hudson was selected as the department's third police chief in 2013 following a nationwide search to replace long time serving Police Chief Charlie Deane who retired in 2012. Chief Hudson's last day is scheduled for March 31, 2016.
Chief Hudson has been a Prince William County resident since the 1970s and has served on the police department for 34 years. In that time, he has held many positions across the department and has been in a command level role since 2000. Chief Hudson has served as a patrol officer, detective, Sergeant and First Sergeant supervising units in the Juvenile, Academy and Patrol Bureaus and serving in line functions as a SWAT team leader and Academy Instructor. He was promoted to Lieutenant and then Captain tasked with overseeing command in the Special Operations, Internal Affairs, and Vice/Narcotics Bureaus. In 2008, he was promoted to a Senior Executive Level of the Department as Assistant Chief in charge of the Operations Division and then Criminal Investigations Division before becoming chief in 2013.
"Chief Hudson has served the people of Prince William County with great distinction throughout his career," said Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of County Supervisors. "We are grateful for his dedication and sacrifice over the past 34 years and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
"I have been immensely blessed to work in the law enforcement profession since 1980 and with the Prince William County Police Department since 1982," said Hudson. "I am genuinely grateful for the many opportunities afforded me and my family by Prince William County; and that gratitude extends to the Police Department staff, the County Executive's Office, the Board of County Supervisors, and most importantly, the citizens of this County."
Deputy Chief of Police Barry Barnard will serve as Acting Police Chief following Hudson's retirement until a national search to fill the position is concluded.
Richmond Police Chief Al Durham reflects on first year
February 22, 2016 | Virginia News
It’s an unlikely friendship: The police chief and the ex-con.
Nonetheless, Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham, who celebrated one year on the job Sunday, has taken 26-year-old David Baldwin under his wing.
Baldwin, originally from Newport News, served 7½ years in prison for armed robbery. Upon his release in December, Baldwin, with the permission of his probation officer, moved to Richmond for a fresh start.
The pair crossed paths last month at a Martin Luther King Jr. event where Baldwin told the crowd his story and that he was looking to stay on the right path.
“I was so moved,” said Durham, 52. “I wanted to help him out.”
Baldwin said Durham calls or texts him daily. The police chief got him a job cutting grass for the city and took him shopping for a pair of steel-toed boots that Baldwin needed for the job. Baldwin also works at McDonald’s.
“Last week, he took me to get my learner’s permit,” Baldwin said.
But most of the time, the men “just chill,” Baldwin said.
“We just hang and chill, like anyone else would hang out,” he said. “I never thought, coming from where I came from, that I’d be friends with the chief.
“People in power, sometimes they have a big head, but he’s humble. It’s like I’ve never caught a conviction,” Baldwin said.
“He says everyone is human — the officers under him are human. He’s showed me they’re not all out to get me.” ...
Senate budget has pay raises, funds for salary parity in law enforcement
February 22, 2016 | Virginia News
By MICHAEL MARTZ | Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Senate Finance Committee on Sunday adopted a two-year budget that would give state employees, state-supported local employees, college faculty and teachers a 2 percent raise this year.
The proposal also would include $12.3 million to help state police and local sheriff’s departments keep the salaries of veteran employees ahead of those of new hires.
For John W. Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs Association, the proposal represents a pleasant choice to compare with a budget plan adopted by the House Appropriations Committee. Its plan would give state employees, including state-supported deputies, a 3 percent raise this year but eliminate the money Gov. Terry McAuliffe originally proposed to help sheriff’s departments with salary parity.
“I’ll have to count the money,” Jones said Sunday after hearing dueling budget presentations by the General Assembly money committees.
As the assembly’s chambers prepare to adopt competing budgets on Thursday, legislators and legions of lobbyists will be busy trying to calculate where their best interests lie among the spending plans proposed by McAuliffe, the House and the Senate with about three weeks remaining in the session.
All of the spending plans focus on restoring funding for K-12 public education; suppressing tuition increases for higher education; boosting services for mentally ill or addicted Virginians; and providing incentives for new business investments and academic research to support them.
Similarly, neither budget includes the $90.5 million in bonds McAuliffe sought to replace two juvenile correctional centers with smaller facilities, although both committees generally support the effort to transform the juvenile justice system and reinvest operating savings in community programs to reduce the likelihood of youths returning to incarceration.
Their competing bond packages — more than $1.7 billion for the Senate and $1.5 billion for the House — include money to begin planning for a new juvenile correctional center proposed in Chesapeake in tandem with a new juvenile detention center for the city. The new facility most likely would replace the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center in Powhatan County.
Both bond proposals represent significantly less spending than sought by McAuliffe, who proposed a $2.4 billion capital plan.
One major difference between the budget proposals is how they would fund maintenance of state buildings and equipment. The Senate wants to use cash, as the governor also proposed, but the House proposes to use bonds instead and redirect the cash to pay off $189.5 million in deferred contributions to the Virginia Retirement System for state employee pensions.
By paying off the pension debt six years early, the House would fund a 3 percent raise for state employees, college faculty and state-supported local employees this year, rather than the 2 percent proposed by McAuliffe in the second year of the budget.
The House plan also would reserve about $28 million for a potential 1 percent raise in the second year, pending the findings of a retirement and workforce commission proposed by House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford. It keeps McAuliffe’s proposal for a 2 percent teacher raise in the second year.
The Senate plan would accelerate pay raises for state employees, faculty, state-supported local employees and teachers to Dec. 1.
Attorney General Herring Begins Regional Trainings on Safe, Fair 21st Century Policing
February 9, 2016 | Virginia News
First of Attorney General Herring's five regional "train-the-trainer" sessions to be held this week in Staunton; additional sessions throughout the year to provide training opportunities for smaller agencies and underserved areas
RICHMOND — Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced that the first of five regional law enforcement trainings on impartial policing, bias awareness, situational decision making, and other skills of 21st century policing is being held February 9-11 in Staunton. In September, Attorney General Herring announced a dual-track training initiative to provide current and future officers training opportunities in the latest techniques for advancing the complementary goals of promoting public safety while ensuring everyone is treated fairly and equally. Training will be provided by "Fair and Impartial Policing," a nationally renowned and highly-respected training firm led by Dr. Lorie Fridell and staffed by former law enforcement officials from across the country.
"The Virginia law enforcement community is committed to being the absolute best at what they do, and part of being the best is seeking out the latest data-driven and scientifically-sound training methods to promote safe, impartial policing," said Attorney General Herring. "These trainings will help keep our officers and communities safe while ensuring that every Virginian is treated fairly and equally. Those two goals are linked and they are keys to building the safe, successful communities we want. These trainings are going to supplement and complement the great work being done by law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth to instill these skills and tactics, and because these are 'train-the-trainer' sessions, we're really going to get a lot of bang for our buck. I really appreciate the incredible input and buy-in we have gotten from Virginia law enforcement and community leaders as we have worked to plan these training sessions and other initiatives to promote public safety, equal treatment, and 21st century policing."
All training sessions will be three day "train-the-trainer" sessions, where small groups of officers are given the skills to train their own agencies and other agencies on 21st century policing skills. Participating agencies and officers must commit to training their fellow officers across the state, producing a strong multiplier effect that will make additional training available to even more Virginia law enforcement officers, especially in smaller agencies or underserved areas.
The first training begins today in Staunton. The final day of training, Wednesday, February 11, will be open to media from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm and Attorney General Herring will address participating officers at noon prior to the conclusion of the training.
Additional trainings will be held:
Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy
Newport News, Virginia
Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
Southwest Higher Education Center
October 26 - 28
Rappahannock Criminal Justice Academy
Regional trainings are part of Attorney General Herring's efforts to promote mutual trust and respect between Virginia communities and their law enforcement agencies, and to advance the dual goals of promoting public safety while ensuring everyone is treated fairly and equally. The package of initiatives was developed with significant input from community and faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and others.
In addition to regional trainings, Attorney General Herring and his team are leading the development of modern curriculum materials for use during law enforcement basic training at the Commonwealth's local and regional training academies. He is also working with the Danville and Martinsville Police Departments to pilot an initiative to help law enforcement agencies recruit more minority applicants and build police departments that reflect the cultural and racial makeup of the communities they serve. The data-driven initiative will produce a model for other Virginia law enforcement agencies to recreate and implement throughout the Commonwealth.
# # #
Contact: Michael Kelly
(804) 786-5874 (office)
(804) 356-5077 (cell)
Former VACP Executive Director Jay Cochran Passes Away
February 8, 2016 | VACP
It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that we report the death of our colleague and dear friend Jay Cochran, Jr. Jay previously served as Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police after a stellar career in state and federal law enforcement.
Family and friends are invited to Quantico National Cemetery on February 19th at 12pm as we say good bye to former VACP Executive Director Jay Cochran Jr. – husband, father, grandfather and law enforcement leader. The entrance to the cemetery is on Joplin Road. Upon entering the gate to the right is an "assembly area" for parking along with a small building where family or others may briefly gather.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that charitable contributions be considered to either:
The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI
Scholarship Fund or History Fund
3717 Fettler Park Drive
Dumfries, VA 22025
The Alzheimer Foundation
Born in Gary, Indiana on October 15, 1927 and passed away Thursday morning, February 4, 2016 in Ashburn, Virginia. Jay graduated from Michigan State University in May 1951 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He received an appointment to the FBI in March 1952 and was initially assigned to Tulsa Oklahoma office before transferring to New York City. Jay then spent 10 years in the FBI laboratory in Washington, DC where he worked on several cases with historical significance. Jay then opted for Administrative Advancement and was transferred to El Paso, TX as Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC), then Houston, TX (ASAC), Inspector, Savannah, GA as the Special Agent in Charge (SAC), and then back to Headquarters as Assistant Director — all over the span of 27 years. For a more detailed report, see the Society’s Oral History Report: http://www.nleomf.org/museum/the-collection/oral-histories/jay-cochran-jr.html
Three days after Jay’s retirement from the FBI in 1979, he was appointed Director of the Virginia State Police’s newly formed Bureau of Criminal Investigation where he worked for 6 years. Jay’s next appointment was Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police from 1985-1987. In June of 1988, he was then appointed to the Virginia Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control as its Chairman.
Jay joined the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI in 1979 and served on the Board of Trustees for the Foundation from 2003 – 2004. He was a past Chairman of the Richmond Chapter, which was officially renamed the Jay Cochran Jr. - Richmond Chapter on February 19, 2014 — the first time any chapter had ever been renamed for a living person.
Jay was an avid wood worker, building various pieces of furniture that will certainly stay in the family for generations. He was also a Redskins fan and of course a Spartan through and through – kind of serendipitous that Kirk Cousins is now the QB for the Skins.
He was preceded in death by his father, Jay Cochran Sr., his mother, Edna Frances McLimans and his brother James Cochran. Survived by his wife of 67 years, Betty Amon Cochran, and one brother, John Cochran, two daughters, Christie Lee Lowe and Claudia Ann Revella, two sons, Randall Linn Cochran and Jay Cochran III and six grandchildren, Casandra Revella, Francesca Revella, Lindsey Cochran, Kyle Cochran, Grace Cochran and Virginia Cochran.
Online Memorial & Guest Book: http://www.colonialfuneralhome.com/home/index.cfm/obituaries/view/fh_id/11079/id/3591723
Capt. Vanessa Grimsby named interim Leesburg police chief
February 5, 2016 | Virginia News
Leesburg Capt. Vanessa Grigsby has been named the interim chief of the town's police department, effective March 1. Police Chief Joseph Price will retire the same day after 16 years as the town's top law enforcement leader.
“I am confident that under Vanessa’s leadership the Leesburg Police Department will continue to provide the excellent protection that our residents rely upon,” Town Manager Kaj Dentler said in a prepared statement. “Her breadth of first-hand experience and knowledge of the department’s operations will prove invaluable in this new role.”
Capt. Grigsby has been with the Leesburg Police Department since August 1996. She is currently division commander of administration and support services, a position to which she was promoted in December 2014.
She's also served as commander of the criminal investigations section from May to December 2014 and as a patrol district commander from March 2004 to May 2014. Previous positions with the Leesburg Police Department include patrol sergeant, school resource officer, patrol officer and detective.
Capt. Grigsby has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is a 2013 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico. Prior to her career in law enforcement, she served on active duty in the U.S. Army as an administrative specialist and intelligence analyst, with assignments in Germany, Spain and Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The town has tapped the International Association of Chiefs of Police to conduct a nationwide executive search for the town’s next police chief. A new chief is expected to be selected within the next four to six months.
Representatives from the IACP will meet with community leaders and stakeholders on Wednesday, Feb. 17 to get feedback on community needs and expectations. IACP will use this input to develop a position profile for the recruitment process.
There will be two input sessions open to the general public. The first session will be at noon in Ida Lee Park Recreation Center’s lower level meeting rooms (60 Ida Lee Drive NW). All are welcome to attend, but this session will be focused on gathering feedback from the business community.
The second public meeting will be at 7 p.m., also at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center. The evening input session will be focused on gathering feedback from the community at large.
“Hiring a Chief of Police is very different from hiring other leadership positions within the Town,” Dentler in a prepared statement. “The Town has changed dramatically in the time that Chief Price has been here. In 2000, our population was 28,311. Today, the Town’s population is almost 50,000 and we are much more diverse community. Over the past sixteen years, the Leesburg Police Department has become a highly professional, nationally recognized organization. The field of law enforcement is facing significant challenges right now, not just here but around the country. Having community input and engagement on what our residents want and expect from the Police Department and its leader is a key element in identifying the right candidates for the next Chief of Police.”
Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror — http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/capt._vanessa_grigsby_named_interim_leesburg_police_chief898
Portsmouth hires new police chief
February 5, 2016 | Virginia News
By Jonathan Edwards | The Virginian-Pilot
Officials announced Friday they’d hired Tonya D. Chapman, the state’s deputy secretary of public safety and homeland security.
Chapman was previously a deputy chief with the Richmond Police Department. She started her career in 1989 as an Arlington County police officer.
Chapman is scheduled to start Feb. 22, police said in a news release.
Chapman interviewed for the position last week at I.C. Norcom High School. During the public interview, she said she would advocate to unfreeze the half a dozen police positions the City Council froze in May.
“I understand the circumstances which led to it, but the community is suffering,” she said. “The homicide rate went up.”
The city’s homicide rate more than doubled, from 11 in 2014 to 27 in 2015.
Staffing has been a problem for the city’s police department: In December, interim police Chief Dennis Mook said the city has 227 officers. The council froze more than two dozen police positions in May, and Mook previously said he can’t find officers to fill another dozen vacant spots.
Public Shows Strong Support for Public Safety Agencies in Virginia
February 4, 2016 | Virginia News
Virginia Law Enforcement Deemed to be Fair and Equitable to Citizens, Prepared to Handle Natural Disasters and Emergencies, Not As Prepared to Combat Terrorism in the Commonwealth
In recent months, law enforcement agencies in many states have taken center stage for their positive and negative actions and the commonwealth has been no different. As a result, many believe that citizens’ trust in law enforcement agencies has significantly decreased.
The recent 2016 Commonwealth Poll: Public Safety — conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University — found strong support for law enforcement in Virginia. More than seven out of 10 (78 percent) respondents felt that people in their local community receive fair treatment from law enforcement. Further, 83 percent were satisfied with how law enforcement in their communities solves problems and handles those who call police for help.
Though a majority of all respondents were supportive of law enforcement across all demographic and regional groups, white respondents (81 percent), those who were identified as Republican (87 percent) and those who live in the Western (81 percent) and Northern (87 percent) regions of the state were most supportive.
“Police legitimacy and public support are extremely important to maintain order and safety in our communities,” said Dr. Robyn McDougle, faculty director of the Office of Public Policy Outreach and associate professor of Criminal Justice at the VCU Wilder School. “Consequently, public perceptions of police have implications for effective policing. Virginians’ perceptions of police are very favorable, which is impressive considering many states are facing citizen outrage toward law enforcement.”
The poll was conducted in a first-ever partnership with the office of the Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. It also showed significant citizen confidence (85 percent) in the ability of public safety agencies to prepare for and respond to a crisis and natural disasters across the state. Virginia has weathered many storms, tornadoes and hurricanes — most recently Winter Storm Jonas — and respondents across all regions were very supportive of public safety agencies’ ability to respond effectively.
Citizens were not, however, as confident in public safety agencies’ abilities to respond to acts of terrorism in the commonwealth. Three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) indicated they were concerned with terrorist attacks occurring in Virginia, with 73 percent concerned about public safety agencies being unable to protect residents from such attacks.
“The most recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California have kept the thoughts of attacks in the commonwealth at the forefront of most Virginians’ minds. Recent poll responses highlight the need for conversations,” McDougle said.
The 2016 Commonwealth Poll: Public Safety 2016, conducted by the Office of Public Policy Outreach in the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 931 adults living in Virginia. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). The interviews were administered from January 4 to 12, 2016. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±3.7 percentage points.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Robyn McDougle, Ph.D.
Office of Public Policy Outreach
Alexandria Police Promotes Two Deputy Chiefs
February 4, 2016 | Virginia News
Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook has promoted Chris Wemple III and Shahram Fard from the rank of Captain to Deputy Chief of Police, effective immediately.
“I have complete confidence that these two Deputy Chiefs will help lead the Alexandria Police Department to even greater successes in the future,” said Chief Cook.
Deputy Chief Wemple
Deputy Chief Fard
Deputy Chief Chris Wemple III grew up in the suburbs of Maryland, just outside Washington, DC. He joined the Alexandria Police Department in 1991. He has worked in all four bureaus throughout his career. He was most recently assigned to be the commander of the Patrol Support Division, where he also served as Liaison to City Council and oversaw the Community Policing Section and Police Training Unit. Deputy Chief Wemple holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy Session #246. Deputy Chief Wemple’s new assignment will be to command the Operations Support Bureau.
Deputy Chief Shahram Fard has served with the Alexandria Police Department since 1995. During his APD tenure, Deputy Chief Fard worked in the K-9 Unit with his partner “Dino” and coordinated a number of post 9/11 projects in the Special Operations Division. As a commander, he led the Vice-Narcotics Section, Patrol Division Commander for the West End of Alexandria, and most recently as commander of the Criminal Investigations Division. Deputy Chief Fard is also a designated Incident Commander for APD and represents the agency on the National Capital Region’s Incident Management Team (NCR-IMT). He holds a Certified Public Management (CPM) certification through The George Washington University, a Criminal Justice Certificate through the University of Virginia, and is currently studying Organizational Leadership at The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy’s 262nd Session and the DEA’s Drug Unit Commanders Academy - 72nd Session. Deputy Chief Fard’s new assignment will be to command the Patrol Operations Bureau. He can be followed on Twitter at @sfardAPD.
Testing to Begin on Sexual Assault Evidence Kits
February 4, 2016 | Virginia News
Testing is part of a $1.4 million project led by Attorney General Herring's office to clear out a backlog of more than 2,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits
RICHMOND(February 4, 2016)-Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today that his office and the Department of Forensic Science (DFS) are moving forward with plans to test more than 2,000 untested sexual assault evidence kits, also known as physical evidence recovery kits (PERKs), currently held by local law enforcement agencies. The Commonwealth has finalized a contract with Bode Cellmark Forensics to perform the testing at its Northern Virginia facility and the project steering committee held its first meeting on January 13 to develop and implement the plan for submitting kits. In the coming weeks, kits will be lifted from local agencies and shipped to the lab for testing with results expected in approximately 6-8 weeks. The first kits submitted for testing will come from Virginia Beach and Fairfax County. Some untested kits across the state date back to 1988.
"Testing these kits is so important to help identify predators and to make connections between unsolved crimes, but it's also really important to show survivors that the Commonwealth stands with them and will help them pursue justice as part of their healing process," said Attorney General Mark Herring. "I'm really glad we're getting the testing under way and I appreciate the hard work of my team, our steering committee, and our partners at DFS and in local law enforcement agencies. This is a big project, but we're going to see it through."
In September, Attorney General Herring secured a $1.4 million grant to test the Commonwealth's nearly 2,000 untested kits from 65 law enforcement agencies as part of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's $38 million initiative to test 56,000 PERKs in 20 states. By testing these kits and searching the profiles against DNA databases, law enforcement will be able to identify additional crimes by known perpetrators and make connections between crimes committed by unidentified perpetrators.
In the coming weeks, kits will be lifted from localities and submitted to the lab for testing on a rolling basis. Once kits are processed, results will be sent back to DFS for entry in a national DNA database and localities will be notified of any matches that may lead to a sexual assault suspect.
PERKs contain evidence collected from victims during an extensive examination conducted at a hospital or crisis center following a sexual assault. The DNA evidence contained in PERKs is a powerful tool for identifying suspects, convicting perpetrators, preventing future offenses, and even exonerating the innocent. DNA from a PERK in one jurisdiction may help to solve crimes in that jurisdiction or in other jurisdictions across the country.
Although state law allows local departments to destroy untested kits based on their evidence retention schedules, many local agencies elected to retain kits and the evidence they contained in hopes of one day testing the kits and building a case.
The PERK testing project is part of Attorney General Herring's ongoing efforts to support survivors of sexual violence and to gather more useful data to learn more about these crimes and how to prevent them.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Kelly
(804) 786-5874 (office)
(804) 356-5077 (cell)
Governor McAuliffe Announces Historic, Bipartisan Gun Safety Deal
January 29, 2016 | Virginia News
RICHMOND - Governor McAuliffe announced a historic, bipartisan deal that will keep guns away from domestic abusers and people who cannot pass background checks. The Governor was joined by Speaker Howell, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and other members of the General Assembly while making the announcement.
“This bipartisan deal to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and people who cannot pass background checks will save lives,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Give and take is essential to every negotiation, but the balance of this deal changes Virginia law permanently in ways that will keep guns away from people who would use them for harm. I want to thank all of the leaders who put politics aside and stood up for this bipartisan compromise to make our families safer.”
Today’s announced deal will pave the way for the first meaningful steps on preventing gun violence in 23 years.
“I appreciate the Governor, Attorney General Herring, Secretary Moran, Senator Reeves and Chairman Lingamfelter for getting us here today. This is not an area where many people would have predicted an accord, but we are here because of their hard work,” said Speaker Howell. “Protecting reciprocity for Virginia’s law-abiding citizens was a major priority for the House of Delegates. We have achieved an agreement that will ensure the constitutional rights of Virginians are protected. We are also sending a clear signal about the mutual willingness of both parties to protect victims of domestic violence. This a good deal for the Commonwealth.”
“I am happy to have been able to work with my colleagues to reach agreement on this deal today, which includes protecting the rights of 421,000 Virginians who hold concealed carry handgun permits,” said Senator Bryce Reeves. “I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working together to find a solution that protects law-abiding Virginians and makes the entire Commonwealth safer. Today’s announcement truly exemplifies the Virginia Way.”
"I am grateful that we have been able to find common ground with our Republican colleagues to advance legislation that will help reduce gun violence,” said Delegate Kathleen Murphy. “Some may be disappointed in the compromise, but it is critical to support efforts to prevent gun violence and to save the lives of victims of domestic abuse. Today we found a yes. We demonstrated that we can work together across the aisle to pass legislation to advance gun safety. That's a victory.”
“Keeping Virginians safe is the most important responsibility public leaders have,” said Secretary Moran. “I am proud that we were able to strike a historic accord that will keep guns out of the hands of people who would use them for harm. This was a difficult negotiation, and we will continue the fight to prevent gun violence in our Commonwealth – but we should celebrate the considerable progress we made together today.”
The gun safety deal encompasses the following bills:
Voluntary Background Checks at Firearms Shows
Delegate Lingamfelter (HB1386) and Senator Edwards (SB715)
- Currently, only firearms dealers with a federal firearms license (FFL) can access the National Instant Checks System (NICS) to perform background checks on firearms purchases/transfers.
- The Virginia State Police cannot access the system on behalf of private citizens selling or transferring firearms.
- This bill would give the Virginia State Police statutory authority to perform background checks on behalf of private citizens at firearms shows, which is required by the FBI.
- Private sellers feel it is their civic duty to obtain the results of a background check prior to selling or transferring a firearm and they currently do not have the ability to access background checks for this purpose. This would allow them access on voluntary cases.
- This bill requires the Virginia State Police to be present at every firearms show in the Commonwealth to perform background checks on a voluntary basis.
Delegate Murphy and Senator Howell
- Currently, a person subject to a protective order is prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, but not from possessing a firearm.
- This bill would prohibit a person subject to a permanent protective order from possessing a firearm for the duration of the order.
- Permanent protective orders are issued by a judge and are served to the subject. They can last up to 2 years and can be extended by the judge as necessary.
- This bill allows the subject of the protective order 24 hours to transfer or sell the firearm to a non-prohibited person. The subject of the protective order may possess or transport the firearm during that 24-hour period only for the purposes of selling or transferring the firearm.
- If a person violates this section, they could be guilty of a class 6 felony.
Delegate Webert (HB1163) and Senator Reeves (SB610)
- Reciprocity for all states with a concealed carry permitting process.
- Prevents state-shopping. If a person has ever been revoked in Virginia, they cannot go to another state to get a permit and have that permit be recognized in Virginia.
- Retains the 24-hour verification clause for law enforcement purposes which allows the VSP or other law enforcement agencies to verify the validity of a permit for an out-of-state person 24 hours a day when states that offer that process. Permit-holders must carry another valid state-issued ID for the purpose of verification.
- Governor McAuliffe will also extend the effective date for the planned implementation of the revocation of reciprocity agreements with other states to March 1st.
Virginia Concealed Handgun Reciprocity Changes Delayed to March 1, 2016
January 29, 2016 | Virginia News
RICHMOND, Va. – Effectively immediately, the Feb. 1, 2016, deadline for concealed handgun reciprocity revocations by the Commonwealth of Virginia has been delayed to March 1, 2016.
On Dec. 22, 2015, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced the results of a yearlong legal analysis of the concealed handgun reciprocity agreements Virginia has maintained with many states. This analysis was to determine if the requirements and qualifications of that state's law are adequate to prevent possession of a permit or license by persons who would be denied a permit in the Commonwealth pursuant to §18.2-308.14 of the Code of Virginia.
As a result of that analysis, the Attorney General determined that the laws in 25 states were insufficient and therefore recommended that the reciprocity agreement between those states and Virginia be revoked effective Feb. 1, 2016. The state police then took the necessary steps to notify those states of the upcoming change.
Since December, members of Virginia’s General Assembly have worked diligently with Governor Terry McAuliffe on proposed legislation to revise the Code of Virginia with regards to the parameters for reciprocity. As a result of these ongoing conversations and the Governor’s announcement made Friday afternoon, the original February deadline has now been extended to March 1, 2016.
Until the new March 1, 2016, Virginia will continue to recognize concealed handgun permits from those 25 states. For more information on those states, please go to the Virginia State Police Website at www.vsp.virginia.gov.
MWAA Names Scott C. Booth New Chief of Police
January 20, 2016 | Virginia News
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority named Scott C. Booth as its new chief of police Wednesday.
Booth, who joined the Airports Authority in 2015 as deputy chief, previously served in a variety of assignments with the Richmond, Virginia, Police Department, including detective in the Narcotics/Vice Units, SWAT Team, patrol sergeant, precinct commander, detective supervisor, commander in the Special Investigations Division, and a major in operations and in the Office of Professional Responsibility.
Booth succeeds Airports Authority Police Chief Stephen Holl, who retired last year.
“Every day, the men and women of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Police Department professionally serve the traveling public, protecting passengers’ safety and securing the airports and the Dulles Toll Road,” said Bryan Norwood, the Airports Authority’s Vice President for Public Safety. With his extensive background and experience, Chief Booth is the right person to continuing leading that mission.”
Prior to joining the Richmond Police Department, Booth served as an infantryman and military police officer in the U.S. Army. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, attended the Senior Management Institute for Police, the Professional Executive Leadership School at the University of Richmond and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in human resource management and leadership studies from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the Dulles Toll Road and also manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail public transit system through Fairfax County and into Loudoun County, Virginia. More than 44 million passengers a year pass through the two airports. The Airports Authority generates more than 387,000 jobs in the National Capital Region.
Henrico Co. Police Chief Appointed to Deputy County Manager
January 11, 2016 | Virginia News
Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas announced today that effective January 23, 2016, Chief Douglas A Middleton will join the staff of the County Manager as the Deputy County Manager for Public Safety.
Chief Middleton will continue his service in this new appointment as a sworn and certified law enforcement officer working with the Police and Fire Divisions on a host of Public Safety initiatives, including the region's new Public Safety Communications system. Chief Middleton, a 43 year veteran of the Police Division, joined the organization on November 29, 1972, and was promoted through the ranks. He was appointed Chief of Police on April 10, 2011. Prior to joining the Police Division, Chief Middleton served in the United States Army as a helicopter crew member in Vietnam.
During Chief Middleton’s tenure, the County’s crime rate has fallen to the lowest level recorded in the Division’s history. Other significant events include the formation of a third patrol station, the implementation of Fair and Impartial Policing, deployment of body worn cameras, an increase in complement of police officers serving the County, changes to juvenile arrest procedures and School Resource Officer certification, achieving international accreditation as a Gold Standard Agency with Excellence, and improving officer safety and effectiveness through improved ballistic and safety equipment, and the use of enhanced technology in crime fighting strategies.
While the Police Division will truly miss Chief Middleton’s experience and leadership, his appointment as a Deputy County Manager will ensure a seamless transition for the next Chief and his continued involvement in law enforcement responsibilities in the County. His history of tireless dedication to employee development and training has insured the citizens of Henrico will continue to have a first class law enforcement agency to serve their community.
The County Manager stated that Chief Middleton will continue to serve as the Chief of Police in a dual role until a new Chief is appointed, possibly as early as the end of March, 2016.
CONTACT PERSON: Lieutenant Chris Eley – (804) 501-4869
Salem City Manager Names Major Mike Crawley New Police Chief
January 7, 2016 | Virginia News
Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess wasted no time this morning as he swiftly appointed Mike Crawley to the position of Police Chief for the citizens of Salem. Crawley replaces Tim Guthrie, who will retire as Salem’s Chief at the end of the month after 34 years of service in the department.
“Salem has always had a great tradition when it comes to developing strong leaders from within and I have a tremendous amount of confidence that Mike Crawley will not only continue that tradition, but build upon it in the coming years.” says Boggess. “Mike has done an amazing job of earning the respect and trust of the men and women in the department in a short time, so I am very pleased to make this appointment.”
Crawley, 42, began working with the Salem Police Department in December 1999 as a Patrol Officer and was voted Officer of The Year by his peers just three years into his law enforcement career. After completing field service as a Patrol Officer, he was promoted to the rank of Senior Police Officer and transferred to the Detective Division in 2004 where he was assigned to the Special Investigation Unit.
In 2006, Crawley was transferred to General Investigator where he rose to the rank of Sergeant in that Division. He also served as the Services Division Sergeant and Patrol Division Sergeant before being appointed to the rank of Deputy Chief by Chief Guthrie in 2014.
“Throughout my life I have been exposed to many great leaders who have help me get to this stage in my career,” says Crawley. “The men and women of the Salem Police Department are fortunate to work in a city where there is an abundance of support for law enforcement from the citizens, and I am truly thankful for this opportunity.”
Crawley is a Roanoke native and a 1991 graduate of Patrick Henry High School. He attended Virginia Western Community College and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Management and Leadership from Bluefield College. He is a member of Shiloh Baptist Church and resides in Salem with his wife and children.
“I am very appreciative for the support that has been given to me and the confidence shown in me by our city leaders in Salem,” he says. “I will work hard to uphold the public’s trust.” Salem Police Department
Crawley’s first order of business was appointing Lt. Derek Weeks as Salem’s new Deputy Chief. Weeks, 41, began his law enforcement career serving four years with the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office before joining the Salem Police Department in 2001 as a Patrol Officer.
He transferred to Salem’s Detective Division in 2006 and was elected Officer of The Year by his peers in 2007. In 2009, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served in that capacity in the Patrol, Services, and Forensics Divisions. During that period, Weeks graduated from the 81st Session of the Virginia Forensic Science Academy. In 2015, he was promoted to the rank Lieutenant and since then has served in the Patrol and Detective Divisions.
“I am humbled and grateful to serve this department and this city in this capacity,” he says. “As we move forward, we will continue to build on the foundation set by previous administrators and remain focused on providing excellent police services to the citizens of Salem.”
Weeks graduated from Glenvar High School in 1992 and from Radford University in 1996. He resides in Salem with his wife and children. Like Crawley, he will assume his new post on February 1.
“The city is being turned over to very capable and dedicated leadership in Mike Crawley and Derek Weeks,” says Guthrie. “The two men bring over 30 years of combined service to the department to their new positions and both are highly respected by their peers.”
Salem Police Chief Tim Guthrie Announces Retirement in January
January 7, 2016 | Virginia News
Salem Police Chief, Tim Guthrie, announced his retirement in a staff meeting this morning after serving Salem’s citizens as a valued member of the Police Department for the past 34 years. His departure, which has been in the works for the past several months, will take effect at the end of January.
“When the City Manager and City Council members put their trust in me a year ago, one of my goals was to prepare the department for the future,” says Guthrie. “We’ve increased our community presence, hired some great new officers and been able to make some solid promotions during this time, and I feel like I am leaving the department in some very capable hands at the perfect time.”
“Like his predecessors, Chief Guthrie has been an invaluable resource for both me and the city,” says Kevin Boggess, Salem City Manager. “His attention to detail, caring nature and professionalism will be missed. I wish him nothing but the best as he enters this new phase of life.”
Guthrie has been with the Salem Police Department since 1981 and worked closely with former Chiefs James Bryant and Jeff Dudley. During his 34 years with the department, he served as a Patrol and Traffic Officer, Narcotics and General Investigations Detective, Detective and Services Division Sergeant, Services Division Lieutenant, a Captain, Major and eventually Chief.
“I cannot begin to express my appreciation to the residents of Salem who have supported me and my career in law enforcement,” says Guthrie. “Some great leaders made an investment in me many years ago, and I feel very blessed that I have been able to start and finish my career in the same place.”
Guthrie is a Roanoke City native who graduated from William Fleming High School and earned his Bachelors of Science degree from Bluefield College and his Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Hollins University. In addition, Guthrie is a graduate of the 220th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico and the 23rd session of the Administrative Officer Management Program in Raleigh.
“I want to thank my wife, Jan, and son, Seth, as well as every member of the department for any success I may have experienced during the last 34 years,” he says. “Their support of me has been extremely humbling and gratifying.”
Leesburg Police Chief Price to retire in March
January 7, 2016 | Virginia News
by Crystal Owens | Loudoun Times-Mirror
It's not the high-profile national media attention cases Leesburg Chief of Police Joseph Price worked in his 16 years as the town's law enforcement leader that will stick with him once he retires March 1.
It's the “small day-to-day cases” that make a difference in so many lives. He uses the recent arrests of two individuals connected with last month's armed robberies at two Leesburg hotels as an example of shoe leather police work.
“Our detectives did a great job on it, but the real break came when one of our officers handled a shoplifting case. He did a thorough enough job and obtained the surveillance video. Detectives were able to look back through the files and arrest them,” he said.
There's no difference, the chief says, in the work an officer does on the humdrum cases to a high-profile murder case.
“The vast majority of the time our officers do the same level of high-quality work on small mundane cases that's done on the highly-publicized or the high price cases,” he said.
Despite his humility, under Price's leadership, the department played an integral role in the capture of Elias Abuelazam, 38, as he was boarding a flight in Atlanta bound for Tel Aviv, Israel after he stabbed three people in Leesburg in spring 2010. Abuelazam is now serving life in prison for murder in Michigan. He was also charged with two other murders and six cases of assault with intent to murder for attacks in the Flint, Mich. area and accused of stabbing a church custodian in Toledo, Ohio.
Price has led the Leesburg Police Department since March 1, 2000. During his tenure, the town’s population nearly doubled, from 28,000 to 50,000, and the police department grew from 58 sworn officers to 87.
Under Price, the Leesburg Police Department was accredited by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services for the first time in 2006 and achieved reaccreditation in 2010 and 2014. Most recently, the Leesburg Police Department received the 2015 Webber-Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Motorola. This annual award recognizes agencies that have implemented innovative projects focused on enhancing quality in law enforcement. The Leesburg Police Department was recognized for its Organized Retail Crime Initiative. In addition, the department received Community Policing Awards from the IACP in 2014 and 2006.
Prior to joining the Leesburg Police Department, Price was with the Montgomery County Maryland Police Department for 25 years. While serving with Montgomery County, he held a variety of ranks and positions including training commander, operations officer, district commander and bureau chief.
Price holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Scranton and an MBA from the American University in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police. He is the current chair of the Northern Virginia Chiefs and Sheriffs Group, former chair of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force and a member of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“Chief Price’s retirement announcement is a bittersweet moment for the Town of Leesburg and myself,” said Leesburg Town Manager Kaj Dentler in a prepared statement. “I am very happy for him to be able to retire after such a successful 40-year career in law enforcement including 16 years as Chief of Police for the Town of Leesburg. Chief Price has faithfully served and protected the Town in his role while being recognized both nationally and regionally. His leadership and guidance transitioned our police department to the professional organization that it is today with a philosophical focus on being a guardian of our community versus just a warrior mentality ...”
In addition to his law enforcement career, Price had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He's an active member of the Rotary Club of Leesburg. He and his wife, Lori, currently live in Leesburg and have three children and three grandchildren.
It's those three grandchildren that will take up some of his retirement time.
“I think the family time will certainly be important. I have three very young grandchildren who I'm their best buddy at this point,” Price said.
But don't count the chief out of helping to catch criminals just yet. Price said he and some friends intend on providing public safety training consultations.
“I want to continue to contribute,” Price said.
Virginia Sex Offender Supplemental Registry Now Online for Public Access
January 2, 2016 | Virginia News
RICHMOND – In accordance with new state legislation, the Virginia State Police has completed and posted online the Supplement to the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry (SOR) in time for the Jan. 1, 2016, deadline. The Supplement includes information on persons who were convicted of certain sexual offenses on or after July 1, 1980, and before July 1, 1994, who are not currently on the SOR. The Supplement is available to the public through the Virginia State Police Website at http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor.
Referred to as “Robby’s Rule,” the 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed the legislation into law:
§ 9.1-923. Supplement to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minor Registry. In addition, the General Assembly amended existing § 9.1-918. Misuse of registry or supplement information; penalty. to include the additional SOR listing.
The Virginia State Police Sex Offender Investigative Unit and Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) spent the past six months researching and verifying names and personal information required by law to be included on the Supplement. Approximately 5,604 names are listed on the Supplement. State law requires the name of each convicted offender to include that individual’s “year of birth, the date of the conviction, the jurisdiction in which the conviction occurred, the person's age on the date of the conviction, the offense of which he was convicted, and the Code of Virginia section of the conviction.”*
The Supplement differs from the SOR, which was established July 1, 1994, as it does not provide convicted offenders’ photographs nor are those listed “subject to the registration requirements of this chapter [Chapter 9] and are not considered persons for whom registration is required unless they are required to register pursuant to other provisions of this chapter [Chapter 9].”*
State law does permit those listed on the Supplement to “petition the circuit court in which he was convicted or the circuit court where he then resides for removal of his name and conviction information from the Supplement if the offense he was convicted of would qualify for removal from the Registry [SOR] under §9.1-910.”*
# # #
*§ 9.1-923. Supplement to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minor Registry
Entering the Age of Electronic Law Enforcement with the Use of Body-Worn Cameras
December 16, 2015 | Virginia News
Rapid technological advancements are putting law enforcement agencies across the country in a difficult position. It is now easier than ever for citizens to record police officers' actions while they are on the job. As such, law enforcement agencies are considering whether to implement body-worn cameras ("BWC") for their officers, at least in part, to document the officers' perspective with their encounters with the public.
Although BWC come with benefits for officers and citizens alike, they also come with obvious and not so obvious downsides. This article explores the push behind implementing BWC, the advantages and limitations of the cameras in policing, and suggestions to properly adopt such technology.
In 2013, the Police Executive Research Forum ("PERF") sent surveys to 500 police departments in the United States and conferred with top law enforcement executives from across the country to discuss the use of BWC.2 PERF designed the survey to examine the main trepidations with the usage of these cameras.3 The survey included questions such as (i) whether officers are required to wear BWC, (ii) the requirements for recording an encounter, (iii) where to place the cameras on the officers' bodies, and (iv) the collection, storage, and review of the data.4 Of the 254 agencies that responded to the survey, over 75 percent of the agencies reported that they did not utilize BWC as of July 2013.5 Importantly, of the 63 agencies who reported using BWC, nearly one-third did not have a written policy governing their usage of the cameras.6
Now, law enforcement agencies are investigating their options for this technology. According to a 2015 report by Public Technology Institute ("PTI"), BWC ranked first among technological priorities facing law enforcement officials today.7 While it is unknown how many departments within the Commonwealth of Virginia have deployed BWC, most, if not all, have at least considered implementing a program. This growing trend for BWC by police stems, at least in part, from the prevalence of smartphone users with video capability, recent incidents of police officers use of force and inmates deaths while in police custody, and the subsequent protests across the country that have been widely publicized in the media. As such, the Federal, state, and local governments are pushing law enforcement agencies to outfit their police officers with BWC.
President Obama's Executive Order
In an effort to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement officers and the communities in which they serve, President Obama signed an Executive Order on December 18, 2014 establishing the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.8 Pursuant to the Executive Order, "the Task Force shall, consistent with applicable law, identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to the President on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust."9 Among the proposed initiatives is a 3-year, $263 million investment package, of which $75 million would be allocated to issuing 50,000 BWC to law enforcement across this country.10 President Obama's program, however, still requires congressional approval. Therefore, there is no ability to compel law enforcement agencies to outfit their officers. At this time, it is simply an attempt to push law enforcement agencies to join the program.
Virginia's Law Enforcement Technology Sub-Panel
Following the release of the Task Force's Interim Report, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe created a special sub-panel of the Secure Commonwealth Panel (an advisory board in the executive branch of state government) to focus on the emerging technological advances facing law enforcement.11 The 31 member sub-panel is chaired by Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, and is comprised of experts from Governor McAuliffe's Administration, the legislature, law enforcement, the private sector, and other citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.12 The sub-panel is currently in the process of exploring constitutional, privacy, economic and public safety issues related to the use of BWC by law enforcement officers.13 Additionally, the sub-panel is considering data storage and retention, equipment, and how to properly handle the evidence once collected.14
The Shift Towards the Use of BWC by Police
Although law enforcement officers have traditionally perceived the use of BWC, and other recording devices such as dashboard cameras, in a negative light, their perspectives are changing and officers are starting to accept or even desire to use BWC as a tool on their belts.15 At least some of the rationale behind this shift is that lay persons are starting to expect police officers to have a video recording of an incident in order for it to be true. In addition, police officers want to have their own video footage of the incident to show their perspective and to quash frivolous complaints. For the officers who continue to be adverse to the implementation of a BWC program, it is imperative to raise the officers' awareness of the advantages associated with this technology in order to obtain its full potential. Thus, getting the most out of the new technology will require the buying in of the officers who use it.
Advantages of BWC in Policing
In general, the positive impacts of police use of BWC include enhanced officer safety, enhanced evidence collection and prosecution, enhanced officer performance in following agency policy and procedures, enhanced officer performance and professionalism, improving officer accountability, and decreased law enforcement liability.16
Evidentiary Purposes of BWC: Setting aside the time required to review the data, prosecutors should find their jobs are materially easier with effective use of BWC, which can capture evidence such as victim statements and confessions. BWC have the ability to help officers collect this evidence under circumstances in which officers are focused on securing a scene and providing life-saving measures.17 Such technology has the added benefit of capturing everything that happens as the officer travels throughout the scene, and interviews witnesses.18
Some prosecutors have even encouraged officers to use BWC to obtain more reliable evidence that can be used in the courtroom.19 For example, domestic violence cases are oftentimes challenging to prosecute because the victim does not wish to press charges. While the victim may have been a willing participant when the officers responded to the call, that same victim may have a change of heart by the time the court date comes around.20 The BWC have the ability to capture the victim's statement, the victim's injuries, and the victim's demeanor close in time to the incident—assuming the department's policies permit the videotaping of victims.21
Similarly, BWC have the ability to capture an interview of a suspect including the manner in which the interview was conducted (whether there was coercion involved), whether the suspect was properly informed of his or her Miranda rights, the suspect's confession itself, the suspect's behavior throughout the interview, and potentially even physical evidence from the crime (i.e. blood on the suspects body or a tear in the suspects clothing), all of which let the prosecution focus on other elements of the crime, assured that the recordings are capable of persuading even the most doubtful of jurors.
The Accountability Effect of BWC in Policing: In 2012, the City of Rialto Police Department in Southern California conducted the first known study on the impact of BWC on the number of citizen complaints against officers.22 Over the course of a year, the department randomly assigned officers to two groups: the Experimental-Shifts (officers were required to wear BWC during their shift) and the Control-Shifts (officers were forbidden from using BWC during their shift).23 The results were astounding: the use of BWC reduced use of force incidents by 59 percent, and the use of BWC reduced citizens' complaints by 87.5 percent.24
These results beg the following questions: Were the reduced numbers of complaints because officers were better behaved? Were the reduced numbers of complaints because the citizens knew they were being videotaped and, therefore they were behaving better? Is it a combination of both of these factors?25 Whatever the reason, this study suggests that there are significant advantages to implementing a BWC program.
Limitations and Concerns Regarding the Use of BWC in Policing
While there are a number of advantages to using BWC, it is imperative for law enforcement agencies to consider the limitations of this technology. Some of these limitations are based simply on the functionality of the camera itself, while others are based on the officer's usage and the perceptions surrounding the use of this seemingly new technology.
Functionality of BWC: The video quality in low or high light situations may be poor. Likewise, the audio quality may also be poor due to background noise (e.g. officer responds to a loud party) or, if the camera is of a lower quality, it may have a constant hum throughout the recording. Because BWC function on battery power, there are some concerns as to whether the battery life met the officer's expectations and whether the officer properly recharged the battery prior to his or her next shift. In addition, some officers, especially more seasoned officers, may feel that adding new equipment is burdensome. Whether it is the learning process behind utilizing the camera itself, or the hurdles of properly marking the video footage as evidence and properly storing the footage, officers have legitimate concerns about the using the technology that cannot be ignored.
BWC Require Financial Commitments and Costs: Rightfully so, law enforcement agencies are troubled by the costs associated with BWC and, therefore, agencies should carefully budget for the expenses associated with this technology. While there is some expense to purchasing the cameras itself—the hardware costs between $800 to $1,000 per camera—the bigger fear expressed by numerous Virginia police departments are the costs associated with the storage of the video footage, and the personnel costs associated with the data.26 There are costs associated with reviewing the video footage to determine how long such footage should be maintained, there are costs associated with reviewing the footage when there is a use of force incident or citizen complaint. There are costs associated with reviewing the video footage for training purposes. There are also costs associated with redacting any video footage, if permitted by the law, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request. For example, the Chesapeake Police Department has approximately 250 uniformed officers who are required to record every encounter with citizens when performing law enforcement related duties or when responding to calls for service.27 The City of Chesapeake pays roughly $1,800 per camera, which includes mounting equipment, licensing fees, and maintenance plans over a five-year period.28 The annual data storage for the entire department costs approximately $24,000.29 However, larger police departments can expect their expenses to be exponentially higher.30 "Officials in Charlotte, N.C., recently approved spending $7 million over a five-year period to purchase and operate 1,400 police body cameras.31 Thus, the costs of utilizing BWC will vary from department to department depending on the size of the department, the crime rate, how frequently the officers' record encounters, and how long the department decides to maintain the video footage for evidentiary purposes.
Capturing the Encounter: BWC do not have the ability to magically capture an incident that is not within the view of the lens. While law enforcement officers must be aware of the limitations of these cameras to attempt to obtain the best possible footage, the legal community and the citizens must also be mindful that a BWC may not capture everything that they want. As an example, the most commonly used BWC are clipped to either the officer's chest or to the officer's glasses. When the BWC are worn on the chest, the cameras may not be able to record an image that the officer is looking at due to its lack of mobility. Whereas on the other hand, the cameras attached to an officer's glasses has the ability to capture more of the scene as the officer turns his or her head. For example, Officer Jones responds to a robbery and observes the suspect flee the store on foot. Officer Jones gets into a foot pursuit with the robbery suspects and observes the suspect throw an item to his left, which lands approximately ten feet away. Depending on the closeness of Officer Jones to the suspect, the camera located on his chest may only record the suspect's arm out to his left side. However, if Officer Jones was wearing the camera attached to his glasses and looked to see what the suspect had thrown, the camera would have recorded the robbery suspect throwing a handgun to the ground. For obvious reasons, the later scenario would provide a much larger picture of the incident, which would be better for evidentiary purposes.
However, the camera attached to an officer's glasses may distract an officer, or be more likely to fall off during physically demanding situations. This scenario occurred in Draper, Utah, where an officer observed a man slumped over in his vehicle.32 The officer approached the subject and had him exit the vehicle.33 Because the subject was in possession of evidence of illegal drugs, the officer handcuffed him and placed him under arrest.34 During this encounter, another officer arrived on scene and the officers began the process of switching out their handcuffs.35 During this exchange, the subject's hands were freed and he ran back to his vehicle.36 A struggle ensued between the subject and the officers at which time one of the officer's BWC fell to the ground.37 Seconds later, the officer fired his gun several times shooting and killing the subject.38 What was not captured on the video was the point in which the suspect pulled a knife on the officers.39 Thus, it is imperative that agencies prepare the officers—and perhaps more importantly the public—that BWC are not foolproof and that they must be able to articulate what happened if an incident is not captured on video. In addition, officers should also get into the habit of verbalizing what is occurring during the citizen encounter so that the statements are at least recorded when the video may not be. Similarly, due to officer safety concerns, an officer may not have the time or ability to turn on his camera before the encounter or incident occurs—situations in which officers must also be able to articulate why this inability occurred.
The Fear of Big Brother is Real: While most agencies permit supervisors to review video footage based on a citizen complaint or use of force incident, the real debate is whether the agency should periodically and randomly review videos to identify problems and hold officers accountable for their performance.40 By doing so, this erodes the trust between the patrol officers who are utilizing the technology and their supervisors.41
In addition, some officers feel that they should have the authority to determine when to turn the cameras on and off. Put another way, they feel that they should have the discretion to determine when to use the BWC just as they do for their use of handcuffs, pepper spray, baton, Taser gun, handgun, or any other tool on their belt. Thus, one of the most important decisions an agency must make in implementing a BWC program is determining how it will use the camera footage. Agencies should be mindful of the officers' apprehensions and implement policies and procedures that are appropriate for their individual departments.
BWC Create Concerns for Officers' Privacy: Law enforcement officers do not want the cameras to remain running for their entire shift while they are performing non-police related duties or not encountering citizens (such as using the restroom, taking a meal break, or engaging in community policing activities). These concerns should also be considered when implementing policies and procedures.
BWC Create Concerns for Citizens' Privacy: Although civil rights advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") generally support the use of BWC by law enforcement so long as the officers are not given the discretion to decide when to turn the cameras off, the impact that the technology has on citizen privacy is not entirely understood.42; In fact, the public itself does not want law enforcement to constantly record either. In addition, there is a certain level of privacy that should be afforded to confidential informants. If not, there is a potential to lose this valuable tool in law enforcement.
Not only do Federal and state laws place some restrictions concerning the expectation of privacy on using audio and video recording, but the use of such technology captures real time traumatic experiences of citizens who are victims of a crime, who are involved in medical emergencies, and who are being detained and arrested.43 Recording such events may violate their privacy and exacerbate citizens' trauma.44 Thus, "the Body Worn Video Steering Group cautions law enforcement agencies about the collateral intrusion of the technology, particularly with regard to religious sensitivities, inmate searches, witnesses and confidential informants, victims, and communications governed by legal privilege."45
Implementing Policies and Procedures
The limitations and concerns surrounding the use of BWC in law enforcement highlight the importance of implementing policies and procedures governing the usage of this technology by officers. Because law enforcement agencies differ greatly, each department should evaluate which policies and procedures will best suit their officers in compliance with all existing laws and regulations. The policies need to be specific so that officers have the appropriate guidance, but they must also be flexible to allow for changes as the program evolves46. In 2014, PERF and the Department of Justice's ("DOJ") Community Oriented Policies Services ("COPS") issued a report identifying 33 recommendations for implementing BWC, including the following: (1) policies should clearly state which personnel are assigned or permitted to wear BWC and under what circumstances; (2) if cameras are assigned to officers on a voluntary basis, policies should include specific provisions when an officer might be required to wear a body-worn camera; (3) agencies should not permit officers to use privately owned BWC while on duty; (4) policies should specify where on the body the cameras should be worn; (5) if the BWC is activated during the officer's shift, the officer should be required to note the existence of the recording on the incident report; (6) officers wearing the BWC should be required to articulate their reasoning if they fail to record an activity required to be recorded by departmental policy; (7) officers should be required to activate their BWC when responding to calls for service and during all law enforcement related encounters unless an exception arises; (8) officers should be required to inform the subjects when they are being recorded unless it would be unsafe, impractical, or impossible to do so; (9) once the technology is activated, it should remain in recording mode until the encounter ends; (10) officers should be required to obtain consent prior to recording interviews with crime victims (e.g. such as sexual assault cases); (11) officers should have the discretion to turn off the BWC during conversations with crime witnesses and citizens reporting criminal activity in their neighborhood; (12) agencies should prohibit recording of other agency personnel during routine, non-enforcement activities; (13) policies should clearly state any types of recordings that are prohibited by the department; (14) policies should designate the officer as the person responsible for downloading recorded data from his BWC unless in use of force or in-custody injuries or death (where the supervisor should take immediate custody and be responsible for downloading the data); (15) policies should include measures to prevent tampering, deleting, or copying of the video footage; (16) data should be downloaded by the end of each shift; (17) officers should properly categorize the video footage; (18) policies should specify the length of time the video footage will be retained by the agency (e.g. 60 or 90 day retention times for non-evidentiary data, but longer for evidentiary data); (19) policies should state where the video-footage is to be stored; (20) officers should be permitted to review video footage of an incident prior to making any statement about the incident; (21) written policies should clearly describe when supervisors are permitted to review an officer's video footage; (22) if the agency determines to conduct random reviews of the video footage, it should be handled by an internal audit unit rather than the officer's direct supervisor; (23) policies should prohibit personnel from accessing data for personal use and from uploading the data to social media; (24) policies should include specific measures for preventing prohibited access or release of recorded data; (25) agencies should have clear protocols for releasing video footage to the public in accordance with FOIA; (26) personnel using or otherwise involved with BWC should be required to undergo training; (27) before personnel are equipped with BWC, they must receive all mandated training; (28) BWC training should include the procedures specified herein; (29) manuals on the use of BWC should be created in both digital and hard-copy format and available to agency personnel; (30) agencies should require refresher courses on BWC and protocols on a yearly basis (at least); (31) agencies should collect statistical data concerning the usage of BWC (e.g. when video footage is used for criminal prosecution or internal affairs ("IA") matters); (32) agencies should conduct evaluations to analyze the financial impacts of implanting a BWC program; and (33) agencies should conduct periodic reviews of their protocols and procedures for BWC.47
Because BWC are relatively new in law enforcement, the issues associated with the cameras are just recently becoming understood.48 By reviewing the policies and procedures on a routine basis, agencies will be in a better position to ensure that they are in compliance with any new laws that may arise surrounding the usage of this technology. More importantly, they will maximize the benefits of the technology.
Training of Officers
With the adoption of BWC in policing, training remains as crucial as ever. Use of force training for law enforcement officers will need to change as the courts may be more willing to scrutinize an officer's judgment based on the video footage available in the courtroom. As law enforcement agencies ramp up their training on the escalation of use of force in a world of BWC, they must also address officers' perceptions of BWC.49 In fact, "one of the most challenging issues an agency may face is officer acceptance. If officers feel that the video cameras are being used as a tool to monitor officer behavior," they may be resistant to using the technology.50 Thus, it is imperative that agencies listen to their officers' concerns, emphasize the advantages of BWC, and ensure the officers understand that the primary purpose behind the use of the cameras is for officer safety and protection and evidence collection.51 To assist in this process, agencies should consider having officers from all different ranks involved in the decision making process (e.g. start a pilot program and obtain the officers' feedback), start the officers earlier on in their careers whenever possible, and roll out the cameras in smaller increments. Officers need to know that random monitoring of the cameras—if the department chooses to do so—is part and parcel of using the cameras.
Courts and the Law
Because the use of BWC is relatively new to law enforcement, the legal implications are not entirely known. However, with the growing number of departments beginning to outfit their officers with this technology, the legal community can expect to see new law develop surrounding criminal cases, civil cases, and FOIA requests. Although the production of video footage from BWC is not much of a mystery due to the provisions involving exculpatory evidence, much uncertainty still exists regarding the following: (i) When does the video footage need to be produced in discovery? (ii) When does the video footage need to be produced pursuant to a FOIA request? (iii) How do agencies handle the privacy concerns contained in video footage—such as when a BWC captures an uninvolved citizen who just happened to walk by the camera's lens? (iv) Why was the officer unable to capture the incident on video? and (v) Why did the officer fail to turn on the BWC? Thus, it is only a matter of time before legal questions on the use of BWC flood into our courtrooms.
BWC are a tool in law enforcements' arsenal and should be treated as such. While BWC provide a host of benefits to agencies and the public across the Commonwealth and the Nation, agencies should be mindful of their limitations, have proper policies and procedures in place, and continue training their officers in the proper use of force. The use of such technology through proper policies and procedures has the ability to rebuild the community's confidences in law enforcement. Ideally, this technology will decrease unlawful activity—whether by the citizens of the community or by law enforcement utilizing excessive force. By doing so, law enforcement can focus on their day-to-day functions of policing—protecting and serving the communities in which they work.
1 Michelle Warden, Esq. is a litigation attorney at Sands Anderson PC in Richmond, Virginia where she is a member of the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Defense Group. Ms. Warden is a former Fairfax County Police Officer who now represents law enforcement and public safety professionals in all aspects of litigation pertaining to their scope of employment including civil rights claims. The article appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Journal of Local Government Law, a publication of Local Government Section of the Virginia State Bar. It is posted here with copyright permission.
2 U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008, written by Brian A. Reaves, NCJ 233982, p. 1, accessed August 24, 2013, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf .
7 Public Technology Institute, 2015 Local Government Law Enforcement Technologies: National Survey Results, July 2015, at 1.
10 Press Release, David Hudson, Building Trust Between Communities and Local Police (Dec. 1, 2014), https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/01/building-trust-between-communities-and-local-police.
11 Press Release, Governor McAuliffe Directs Secure Commonwealth Sub-Panel to Study Law Enforcement Technologies (Apr. 21, 2015), https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=8234.
15 Police Executive Research Forum, Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program Recommendations and Lessons Learned, Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014, at 5.
16 International Associations of Chiefs of Police, The Impact of Video Enhancement on Modern Policing, 2003, at 2, https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=208525.
17 Police Executive Research Forum, Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program Recommendations and Lessons Learned, Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014, at 9.
20 See id.
21 See id.
22 Eugene P. Ramirez, A Report on Body Worn Cameras, at 3; William Farrar, Operation Candid Camera: Rialto Police Department's Body-Worn Camera Experiment, The Police Chief 81 (Jan. 25, 2014).
25 Police Executive Research Forum, Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program Recommendations and Lessons Learned, Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014, at 5.
26 See Michael D. White, PhD, Police Officer Body-Worn Cameras: Assessing the Evidence, Washington, D.C.: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014, at 7.
32 Caroline Connolly & Ashton Edwards, Draper Police Dept. Releases Body Cam Video of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting, Jan. 16, 2015, available at http://fox13now.com/2015/01/16/draper-police-releasing-body-cam-video-after-wvc-officer-shot-armed-suspect/.
33 See id.
34 See id.
35 See id.
36 See id.
37 See id.
38 See id.
39 See id.
46 Police Executive Research Forum, Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program Recommendations and Lessons Learned, Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014, at 37.
47 See id. at 37-42.
48 Id. at 49.
John Venuti: High degree of safety as VCU’s police chief
December 15, 2015 | Virginia News
BY BRANDON SHULLEETA | Richmond Times-Dispatch
John A. Venuti, Virginia Commonwealth University's police chief, championed efforts to combat sexual assaults at colleges this year and issued body cameras for officers.
For those and other efforts, Venuti was recognized as a Campus Safety Director of the Year by Campus Safety magazine.
"Although I am the face of VCU police, this award really highlights all of the great work done by the men and women at VCU police," Venuti said by email. "There has been incredible transformation of the VCU Police Department culture."
Venuti served as chairman of the law enforcement subcommittee of the Governor's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence. Among recommendations, the subcommittee called on law enforcement to be more proactive in assault prevention and called on the state to establish stricter requirements for evidence retention and campuswide alerts.
Venuti joined the Richmond Police Department in 1984 and, as a major, was in charge of the homicide/violent crimes unit from 2003 to 2010. He became VCU police chief in 2010 and now heads one of the largest campus police departments in the nation, with 92 sworn officers.
In addition to issuing body cameras to VCU officers, Venuti has led efforts for better lighting and a stronger police presence in areas of concern on and near campus. In another step, VCU police issued an open invitation for students to use the lobby of the Police Department to meet strangers for Craigslist and other transactions.
In spring 2015, 96.5 percent of students, faculty and staff surveyed reported feeling "safe" or "very safe" on VCU's campuses, according to the school.
Under Venuti's leadership, VCU police also implemented the LiveSafe app, which is free for VCU students, faculty and staff. Users can send in photos, videos and texts to dispatchers anytime, seven days a week.
Venuti, who additionally serves as VCU's assistant vice president of public safety, also has overseen the upgrade of a universitywide security camera system, and the Police Department has used footage in hundreds of investigations.
IN HIS WORDS
Favorite book is "The Leadership Challenge," by Kouzes and Posner. When I was with Richmond police, I sent this book via Amazon to newly promoted sergeants and lieutenants. This book is the bible of leadership.
Favorite movie is "The Princess Bride." I love this fairy tale because when my kids were little, we had to have watched this movie 100 times. Every time we watched it, everyone knew and recited all the lines in the movie until someone in the family got mad. This movie reminds me of when my kids were little - I miss that.
A small moment in life with a big impact
When I was assigned to the DEA Task Force, I had it made. I had the best job in the entire Richmond Police Department. One day I was feeling sorry for myself, complaining and whining about everything. I walked into 7-Eleven to get a cup of coffee and there was a man with one leg also getting coffee. That man greeted me, inquired as to how I was doing and had the most positive outlook that I have ever been exposed to. I left the store and realized that if the man with one leg could be like that, I could be like that. I have never forgotten that brief encounter. Everyone that I tell that story to gets it immediately. Don't whine, complain and gripe. Contribute in a positive manner. All of us have the ability to change someone's life with how we act and the things that we do.
In the world of policing, role models are hard to find. When I look at my career, there have been significant investments to RPD and VCU. There is no way possible to make investments without having someone at home watching all the things that are happening on the back end while I am at work for extended periods of time. For me, that has been my wife, who has never complained about all of the time I spent away from home at work. Any success that I have had, she owns. I also look to my kids for inspiration. My son and daughter are two of the strongest, bravest people I know. I often go to bed and pray to wake up and be more like my son and daughter each day.
Alternate profession or course of study
I would pick public affairs/ marketing. I believe that organizations need to tell their stories. I think it also takes a special gift to do that effectively. There is a big difference between telling your story and spin. I hate spin. I believe in being open, honest and transparent.
Something that might surprise others
I am an extreme introvert. I present the exact opposite as an extrovert. I realized a long time ago that to lead others, I needed to flex and crawl out of my shell and be more engaging and outgoing. So I spend my days at work operating way outside of my comfort zone. For me, it's exhausting. One of my favorite things to do is to play golf alone.
I am most proud of being named Campus Safety Director of the Year by Campus Safety magazine. Although I am the face of VCU police, this award really highlights all of the great work done by the men and women at VCU police. There has been incredible transformation of the VCU Police Department culture, and I feel this recognition summarizes all of the dedication, commitment and hard work of all of my employees. I often fool around and tell people that the only thing that is the same at the VCU Police Department over the past five years is the paint on the wall, and soon that will change with our police headquarters moving to Third and Broad streets.
Favorite thing about Richmond region
My favorite thing about the Richmond region has been the change that has taken place since I arrived in 1984. Richmond is a different city now. When I arrived, there were a few good restaurants; now there are many. Richmond is a much safer city now. That factor alone is a driving force for the growth and development of Richmond.
JOHN A. VENUTI
Position: Assistant Vice President of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University
Born/hometown: Sept. 1, 1963; Flushing, Queens, New York City
College: Culinary Institute of America (associate's in culinary arts), Bluefield College (bachelor's in management and leadership)
Family: wife Christina, children Maria and Vincent
Just as he planned it, Sellers stepping down as Albemarle’s police chief
December 10, 2015 | Virginia News
For Col. Steve Sellers, five years at the helm is enough. On Wednesday, the 34-year police veteran announced he will hang up his gun and badge next summer and retire from his post as Albemarle County’s police chief.
While Seller’s announcement comes as a surprise to some people — which also comes on the heels of Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo’s retirement announcement last month — Sellers said he knew exactly when he was going to retire. He said he committed to five years on the job and that deadline has come around.
“I decided to retire before I was hired,” Sellers, 54, said. “If you know anything about me, I’m a strategic thinker. I’m a planner. This was not something I just decided to do.”
“I don’t think any chief should be around longer than seven years — I just don’t.”
While personal reasons lie at the heart of Sellers’ decision, he said it’s important for police agencies to grow and innovate. He said his years of experience have been vital to his role as a leader, but added that a good police chief needs to be able to adapt to the times and not get stuck behind the experience.
“I’ve been a police officer for a long time,” said Sellers. “When it’s all said and done, 34 years of police service. That’s a lot of experience, and experience hampers innovation.”
“To carry policing into the 21st century adequately, you need innovation,” he added. “I’m not saying I’m not innovative — I am — but sometimes experience blocks that. It’s time for a fresh set of eyes to move this department to the next level.”
Sellers began his police career with the Fairfax County Police Department, where he spent more than 28 years and eventually reached the position of deputy chief of police. Thinking about his future retirement, Sellers began looking for a place where he and his wife, Jennifer, could eventually settle down. That’s when he found Charlottesville.
“My wife and I thought, ‘Wow, this would be a really neat place to retire,’” Sellers said.
Sellers then saw that the Albemarle County Police Department was looking for a new chief and, thinking it would be a good opportunity, put his name in for the job.
* * *
As a police chief, Sellers also was on the executive board of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. He said he wanted a chance to learn from other police chiefs and said it was important to hear from both small and large police departments across the state. Williamsburg Police Chief Dave Sloggie, president of the board, said it was a pleasure to work with Sellers.
“Chief Sellers is a unique individual,” Sloggie said. “He has been a calm and insightful friend and law enforcement partner. He has served the citizens admirably, providing ethical guidance and leadership in the county, as well as statewide to the entire law enforcement community.”
“I feel honored to know him and privileged to have worked closely with him on the VACP board,” he added. “He will be greatly missed throughout Virginia. I wish him good health and happiness in his well-deserved retirement.”
Roanoke Police Chief Chris Perkins Announces Retirement in March 2016
December 4, 2015 | Virginia News
Roanoke, Va.- Roanoke Chief of Police Chris Perkins announced his retirement today after more than 23 years as a member of the Roanoke Police Department. He will retire on March 1, 2016.
Chief Perkins joined the department on October 12, 1992. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1999, lieutenant in 2004, captain in 2006, and deputy chief in 2008. He became chief on October 13, 2010.
"Chief Perkins was one of my first hires when I arrived in Roanoke and I couldn't be more proud of the work he's done," said Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill. "His contributions, which are many, will have a lasting impact on not only the Police Department, but our entire city for generations to come."
During his tenure as chief, the Police Department began working together with other city departments and neighborhood volunteers to conduct regular community walks. He initiated the Drug Market Intervention in the Hurt Park and Melrose neighborhoods, which has reduced crime and quality of life concerns in those communities.
It was also during Chief Perkins' tenure that the innovative Growth Through Opportunity [GTO] Cadet program began. The program helps adults with unique challenges hone their job skills so they can seek employment. All four of the first class of GTO cadets now has jobs. The second class of GTO cadets started in November.
Chief Perkins oversaw the creation of ISTAR [Intelligence, Statistics, Technology, Accountability, and Research], ensuring greater efficiency and accountability in the department. Chief Perkins worked together with command staff and officers in 2013 to reorganize the entire department, creating the Community Response Bureau, which allowed the department to focus on specific concerns within neighborhoods.
Chief Perkins worked with Roanoke Commonwealth's Attorney Donald Caldwell to create a Public Safety Summit, which meets monthly and is an opportunity for the different agencies and organizations to work hand-in-hand to better the entire region.
In that spirit of regional cooperation, Chief Perkins collaborated with Roanoke County Chief of Police Howard Hall to create a joint academy to enhance training between both departments in 2014. Chief Perkins and Chief Hall also established the Regional Drug Unit to better address drug trafficking in the Roanoke Valley.
"I want to thank the City Manager for the opportunity to serve as Chief of Police in this Six-Time All-American City, the citizens of the City of Roanoke for their partnership and support, and most importantly, the amazing men and women I've had the privilege of working with here at the Roanoke Police Department," Chief Perkins said. "This is home. The staff here at RPD is my family. I am proud to retire in March after wearing the Roanoke Police Department badge for over 2 3 remarkable years."
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Governor Announces Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement Receives VLEPSC Accreditation
December 2, 2015 | Virginia News
RICHMOND - Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Bureau of Law Enforcement received its initial accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). The Commission, a panel of police chiefs and sheriffs from across the state, voted unanimously for the accreditation award.
“I am pleased that the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement has taken this important step in the agency’s effort to keep Virginians safe in the most professional and credible manner,” said Governor McAuliffe. “As states across the nation grapple with the difficult issues of trust and cooperation in community law enforcement, I am proud that Virginia is leading the way.”
The accreditation program, administered through the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Services, is a thorough inspection and review of agency policies, procedures, processes and operations as defined by 190 stringent standards. Four performance areas including administration, operations, personnel and training are carefully evaluated against established criteria by an independent panel of certified assessors.
“I commend the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement for reaching this important milestone – one that not only supports an ongoing culture of professionalism and accountability but also completes one of the significant recommendations made to the Governor by the ABC Law Enforcement Expert Review Panel,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.
Virginia ABC Special Policy Advisor for Law Enforcement Ryant Washington said the accreditation is a source of pride for the agency and an asset for residents of the commonwealth. “This accreditation process has provided an important framework for professional self-inspection,” said Washington. “It has increased the effectiveness of our policy development, the efficiency of our delivery of services and ensures that we continue to provide proper training. We are committed to maintaining this high level of professionalism and responsibility,” he said.
An assessment team made up of independent law enforcement professionals from across Virginia inspected files, collected incident reports and photos, conducted interviews and observations and reviewed activities, equipment and facilities as part of the three-day accreditation examination. ABC’s regional enforcement offices across the state underwent a thorough check to ensure policy and practice compliance in all areas. In order to maintain accreditation, the agency will be reassessed every four years.
“Overall, the accreditation process promotes public confidence in law enforcement as a whole,” said Virginia ABC Chief Operating Officer Travis Hill, who oversees the agency’s Enforcement Bureau. “Obtaining this designation indicates Virginia ABC’s continuing commitment to maintain a professional law enforcement organization that holds its agents, management and staff to a higher standard. I congratulate the agents and staff who served on the Virginia ABC accreditation team, as well as all members of the Bureau on this accomplishment.”
Approximately 92 Virginia law enforcement agencies are accredited by VLEPSC, which was founded in 1993 and is overseen by an executive board comprised of Virginia police chiefs and sheriffs who are appointed by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. The program is managed by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $1.8 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 353 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 16,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. ABC is committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Middleburg, Va. named best National Night Out event among communities with less than 5,000 people
December 2, 2015 | Virginia News
by Chief A.J. Panebianco, Middleburg Police Department
Every August since 2012, the Town of Middleburg and the Middleburg Police Department have participated in the National Night Out event.
As described on the National Night Out web site,
"National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.”
The Middleburg Police Department partnered with the Community Center and took to the first event with eager volunteers, willing council support, and police officers who really do want to make a difference. However, the most important ingredient has to be the people of Middleburg. The relationship between the police and the town is a testament to the vibe that is Middleburg. The Department really is a community police department. The officers are known by their first names and can be seen helping with various community projects. In Middleburg the Police Department belief is: “We don’t have to police the community…because we are the police FOR the Community.” Policing in Middleburg is truly a community effort and it shows with the low incidents of crime and the thousands who feel safe to visit it monthly.
The years have moved forward and this year the community held its 4th Annual National Night Out. We felt it was time to test what we do against the rest of the nation. To that end, the department entered our event in the competition. Middleburg competed in Category #6 against communities of up to 5,000 residents. The hope was to do well enough to be noticed. However, we are excited to announce that Middleburg Virginia, population of around 750 people, is the Category 6 “Communities with a population of 5,000 or less” National Winner. Winning this contest is a testament to the dedication this community has as it relates to policing. Our event was part of The 32nd Annual National Night Out which involved 38.3 million people in 16,728 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide.
This year’s event featured a rock climbing tower, the ultimate bungee, bounce house, magician, DJ, health screening bus, fire/rescue display, fire marshals display, blood hounds, bike safety information, food, drinks prizes or all. As the event progressed we had some folks come and go. However, the final head count was just over 400 people…amazing numbers for a community this size. So this award is a thank you for our Community that is Middleburg.
To see the complete list of all winters and the top 10 from the Category 6 follow this link. https://natw.org/award-winners
Virginian-Pilot wins lawsuit to get police officers’ info
November 20, 2015 | VACP
To: VACP & VACLEA Members and Current & Former Virginia Law Enforcement
FROM: Dana Schrad, VACP/VACLEA Executive Director
The article below, released Thursday, details the outcome of a lawsuit filed by The Virginian-Pilot against the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services for enforcement of a written agreement between the Pilot and DCJS to release the names of all current and former Virginia law enforcement officers (an estimated 125,000 names). The VACP worked diligently with DCJS and with the Office of the Attorney General to fight this release to protect the LEO training records held in the T-REX database as exempt under the definition of personnel records.
Although we are disappointed that the agreement to release the officer names was upheld, the decision did affirm that the training records held by DCJS are personnel records and exempt from mandatory release.
We will review the impact of this decision and proposed amendments to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act at the upcoming 2016 VACLEA Winter Conference (January 7-8) and the 2016 VACP Midyear Conference (February 22-23) — both to be held at the Hilton Short Pump Hotel and Conference Center in western Henrico County.
Officer safety is a priority of the VACP, so we have partnered with ManageUrID to provide Virginia law enforcement with a 50% discount on services to detect and remove your personal information from unauthorized internet sites.
Visit our website at https://vacp.manageurid.com/ to sign up for this inexpensive but important service to protect you and your family.
NORFOLK — The Virginian-Pilot has won a lawsuit to get basic information about law enforcement officers across the state.
Norfolk Circuit Judge Joseph Migliozzi ruled Wednesday that records of 125,000 current and former police officers, sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement personnel from some 500 agencies are subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Migliozzi ordered officials with the Department of Criminal Justice Services to give The Pilot the following information: officers’ names, agencies they work for, and when they started and stopped working for those agencies.
Pilot Editor Steve Gunn said he was happy the newspaper prevailed.
“But really we see it as a victory for the public,” he said. “We’re strong believers information should be made public in most cases.”
Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, which represented the Department of Criminal Justice Services, declined to talk about the decision because he hadn’t read Migliozzi’s ruling.
The Pilot and reporter Gary A. Harki sued the Criminal Justice Services Department last month seeking access to a database that tracks training for Virginia’s law enforcement officers. At a trial earlier this month, Harki told Migliozzi that he used similar data from West Virginia to track how police departments were shuffling problem officers to other departments.
Lawyers with the Attorney General’s Office argued that the information amounted to personnel records and was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
They also argued that the Department of Criminal Justice Services wasn’t the primary keeper of the records – that the records’ owners were the individual law enforcement agencies, which simply shared them with the department.
Migliozzi ruled otherwise, although he said it was tough weighing public access against the safety of law enforcement officers.
“This is a heavy burden on me,” he said during the trial.
Norfolk police Chief Michael Goldsmith testified that he opposed the release of information on his nearly 750 sworn officers.
Terrorists with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have encouraged lone wolves in the United States to attack military members and police officers, Goldsmith said. And hackers with groups like Anonymous might use bits of information to identify officers, dredge up more information and release it to the public.
“I have a duty to the officers to protect them as much as I can,” Goldsmith said.
Harki said his agreement with the department forbids him from releasing the list, or any name on the list, unless he confirms it with another source, such as the agency the officer works for.
Virginia State Police Capt. Jeff Baker raised a question during his testimony: Can The Pilot guarantee the security of the list once it leaves the protection provided by law enforcement computer servers?
The Pilot sued DCJS after four months of failed negotiations with the state. Harki asked for the information in June, and state officials balked, saying they were worried about exposing undercover officers.
Over the next month, the sides negotiated. Officials agreed to turn over the records, so long as Harki and his editors didn’t publish names from the list without corroborating them with individual agencies.
State officials then reneged on the agreement, which led to the lawsuit.
The Pilot’s lawyer, Conrad Shumadine, argued that allowing the state to back out of the agreement after Harki did everything he could to find a solution would have undermined the Freedom of Information Act, making it useless.
Former Salem police chief named Vinton interim chief
October 30, 2015 | Virginia News
By Tiffany Stevens | Roanoke Times
Retired Salem Police Chief Jeff Dudley will act as Vinton’s interim police chief while town council members continue their search for the department’s new head, according to a news release.
Vinton Town Council appointed Dudley as interim chief Tuesday. He will temporarily replace Benjamin Cook, who announced earlier this month he was leaving the department to take a job as a security manager at LewisGale Medical Center. Cook’s last day is Friday.
Dudley worked with Salem police for 37 years before retiring in 2014. He has a master’s degree from Radford University and graduated from the Virginia Forensic Science Academy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy and the Virginia Chiefs Professional Executive Leadership School.
Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence said Dudley will continue receiving pension from his time as Salem police chief while working as Vinton’s interim chief.
“He’s a contract employee. Since it’s only going to be for three months that doesn’t affect his pension,” Lawrence said. “If we have to hire him for longer we’ll discuss it then.”
Council members are recruiting candidates for chief and hope to have a new chief in place in early 2016. Dudley will begin his interim term Monday.
Department of Justice Releases Report on Officer Safety and Wellness
October 28, 2015 | Virginia News
Report Highlights Four Police Departments with Effective Programs
The Department of Justice today announced the release of a new report that focuses on advancing the health and safety of police officers across the country. The publication, Health, Safety, and Wellness Program Case Studies in Law Enforcement, focuses on the innovative approaches to promoting officer safety and wellness taken by four police agencies. The report was released by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).
“The health and wellness of law enforcement officers is essential to public safety,” said Attorney General Lynch. “In order to ensure that our communities are kept as secure as possible, we must provide the officers who serve them with the tools they need to protect their health, ensure their well-being, and manage the rigors of their difficult work. The case studies in this report offer an important guide as we seek to support and care for men and women who risk their lives for us every day.”
“The safety and well-being of our police officers are as important to community policing and public safety as are building community trust and confidence,” said Director Ronald Davis of the COPS Office. “We know police work is tough, stressful, and dangerous. Officers are put in dangerous situations every day. We must make police officer wellness and safety a top priority.”
The four case studies presented in the publication offer an opportunity to better understand the significance and value that officer wellness programs present in successfully reducing officer sickness, injuries and deaths associated with poor health or traffic-related accidents. The case studies serve as models for safety, health and wellness programs and each offers practical strategies that have shown positive results. The four law enforcement agencies featured in this publication are the Boca Raton Police Department, the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Fairfax County Police Department and Reno Police Department.
The report is the product of the Attorney General’s Officer Safety and Wellness Group, led by the COPS Office and Bureau of Justice Assistance, in partnership with the Major Cities Chiefs Association. The group is comprised of representatives from police associations and unions, federal government agencies, universities and local law enforcement agencies, with additional subject matter experts and guest presenters with expertise on specific topics.
The publication, Health, Safety, and Wellness Program Case Studies in Law Enforcement, is available here: http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P332.
The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 127,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.
Department of Justice Releases Report on the Ambush of Police Officers
October 28, 2015 | National News
The Department of Justice today announced the release of an Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) report that addresses ambushes and violence against police officers. The report, Ambushes of Police: Environment, Incident Dynamics, and the Aftermath of Surprise Attacks against Law Enforcement, analyzes ambushes of the police and provides new information that can guide police executives, trainers, supervisors, policymakers and researchers in addressing the issue.
“Law enforcement officers regularly put their lives on the line in order to protect our communities and serve our nation,” said Attorney General Lynch. “As part of our work to support these brave men and women, the Department of Justice is committed to extensive efforts aimed at preventing violent action against the police. This report will serve as a critical base of knowledge as we work to defend our law enforcement and ensure our officers’ safety.”
“Every day, law enforcement officers serve this nation with distinction by protecting all of us from harm,” said Director Ronald Davis of the COPS Office. “That protection, however, comes at great risk to the men and women who courageously don the uniform and wear the badge. We know that the murder of a police officer in the line of duty is an assault on the entire community. When that murder is a result of an ambush, it also attacks the very foundation of our democracy. We must act to address this persistent threat. This ambush report is an important first step.”
The report, compiled by CNA, investigates methods for preventing, responding to, and effectively responding to ambushes of police officers. Ambush attacks against law enforcement officers remain a threat to officer safety, with the number of attacks per year holding steady since a decline in the early 1990s and the proportion of fatal attacks on officers attributable to ambushes increasing.
The report examines the environmental factors prevalent in ambush situations, and considers factors that may impact the survivability of an ambush assault. It also examines how police organizations can learn in the wake of these critical incidents and aid in the development and evaluation of policies and training programs aimed at improving outcomes following an ambush assaults against an officer.
The report, Ambushes of Police: Environment, Incident Dynamics, and the Aftermath of Surprise Attacks against Law Enforcement, is available here: http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P340.
The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 126,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.
Department of Justice Announces New Guidebook on 21st Century Policing
October 28, 2015 | National News
Attorney General Lynch to Launch Phase Two of Six-City Community Policing Tour Highlighting Jurisdictions that Effectively Implement Recommendations in the 21st Century Policing Guidebook
The Department of Justice today released a new resource guide called The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Implementation Guidebook, which outlines strategies to help communities, law enforcement and local government implement recommendations in the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report. President Obama announced the new guidebook today at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Convention in Chicago.
As part of the announcement, the Attorney General will launch Phase Two of the Justice Department’s Community Policing Tour. Each stop along the six-city tour will highlight a jurisdiction that is effectively implementing one of the six pillars outlined in the task force guidebook.
“The Department of Justice is dedicated to building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve; enlisting the public’s assistance in reducing crime; and creating the stronger and safer communities that all Americans deserve,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “This implementation guide offers a crucial blueprint for elected officials, law enforcement officers, and community leaders alike as they work to put important policies and reforms into practice across the country.”
“The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Implementation Guide highlights specific actions for local elected and appointed government officials, law enforcement agencies, communities and other stakeholders to support a comprehensive approach to reduce crime and build trust and legitimacy,” said Director Ronald Davis of the Office Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office). “Success will require collaboration and partnerships among these groups.”
Guidebook Summary on 21st Century Policing: Five Ways Stakeholder Groups Can Implement the Task Force’s Recommendations
- Engage with local law enforcement; participate in meetings, surveys, and other activities.
- Participate in problem-solving efforts to reduce crime and improve quality of life.
- Work with local law enforcement to ensure crime-reducing resources and tactics are being deployed that mitigate unintended consequences.
- Call on state legislators to ensure that the legal framework does not impede accountability for law enforcement.
- Review school policies and practices, and advocate for early intervention strategies that minimize involvement of youth in the criminal justice system.
- Review and update policies, training, and data collection on use of force, and engage community members and police labor unions in the process.
- Increase transparency of data, policies, and procedures.
- Call on the POST Commission to implement all levels of training.
- Examine hiring practices and ways to involve the community in recruiting.
- Ensure officers have access to the tools they need to keep them safe
- Create listening opportunities with the community.
- Allocate government resources to implementation.
- Conduct community surveys on attitudes toward policing, and publish the results.
- Define the terms of civilian oversight to meet the community’s needs.
- Recognize and address holistically the root causes of crime.
The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing was charged by President Barack Obama with identifying best practices and offering recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. The task force submitted its final report to the President in May 2015. In July 2015, the White House and the COPS Office convened a forum of elected officials, police executives and community members to jointly discuss the task force recommendations and share strategies for implementation.
The implementation guide is a companion to the task force report and is informed by strategies shared at the July convening and feedback from the field. It provides guidance on implementing the task force’s 59 recommendations and 92 action items and serves as a resource for law enforcement, local government, community members and other stakeholders interested in concrete examples of how to turn the task force recommendations into action.
The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Implementation Guidebook is available here: http://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detail&id=COPS-P341. Further information about the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing is available here: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/default.asp?Item=2761.
The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 127,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.
Leesburg Police Win International Police Excellence Award
October 28, 2015 | Virginia News
Motorola Solutions and The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) announced the recipients of the 2015 Webber Seavey Award for Policing Excellence at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Annual Conference in Chicago on Monday, October 26, 2015.
Jointly sponsored by IACP and Motorola, the Webber Seavey Award is presented annually to agencies and departments worldwide in recognition for promoting a standard of excellence that exemplifies law enforcement's contribution and dedication to the quality of life in local communities. This program helps law enforcement agencies worldwide and the communities they serve by redefining the concept of law enforcement and how it is routinely performed. The award is named for Webber S. Seavey, the IACP's first president. The program annually honors achievements in one or more of the following goals:
- Continually improving services to the community;
- Strengthening police relations and promoting community participation;
- Effectively using resources;
- Enhancing communications within and cooperation among agencies;
- Developing creative and innovative approaches that promote excellence in law enforcement.
The 2015 IACP-Motorola Solutions Webber Seavey Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement was presented during the IACP Annual Conference first general assembly to the Leesburg Police Department; Vancouver, British Columbia Police Department; and the Waterloo, Ontario Regional Police Service.
“These three law enforcement agencies have gone the extra mile to improve the quality of life in each of their communities,” said John Zidar, vice president, Motorola Solutions. “Recipients of this award are held in high esteem as exemplary models of effective law enforcement programs that can be mirrored by agencies from around the globe.”
Leesburg, Virginia Police Department: Organized Retail Crime
Using evidence-based policing, the department identified an increase in organized shoplifting and losses exceeding those reported to law enforcement. To address these issues Leesburg used a three-prong approach including high-visibility patrols, education and theft prevention operations, Leesburg has experienced a sustained reduction in organized retail crime.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Police Department: Assertive Outreach Team
In part of the city’s downtown area, 3 percent of the population accounted for 25 percent of all reported mental health calls to the department. To address these issues, police officers teamed up with nurses and other healthcare professionals to transition residents from local emergency departments to appropriate community services. As a result of their efforts, there has been a 77 percent reduction in violent offences by these residents.
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Regional Police Service: Connectivity Waterloo Region
More than 80 percent of calls for service in Waterloo are non-criminal in nature and are about residents impacted by poverty, addiction and mental health issues. To address these calls, the Waterloo Police Service created an early-intervention program with multiple agencies to connect high-risk individuals and families to services and support within 24 to 48 hours.
"We're proud to recognize the outstanding achievements of the three winners of this year's IACP/Motorola Solutions Webber Seavey Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement," said IACP’s President, University of Central Florida Police Chief Richard Beary. "The IACP/Motorola Solutions Webber Seavey Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement exemplifies the best qualities of public servants – identifying a need in the community and taking action to address it.”
A local presentation of the award will be made by IACP and Motorola officials at the November 10, 2015 Leesburg Town Council meeting.
About the IACP
The International Association of Chiefs of Police is the world’s largest association of law enforcement executives. With over 25,000 members in more than 121 countries, the IACP serves as the professional voice of law enforcement. Building on their past success, the IACP addresses cutting edge issues confronting law enforcement through advocacy, programs and research, as well as training and other professional services. IACP is a comprehensive professional organization that supports the law enforcement leaders of today and develops the leaders of tomorrow.
About Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) creates innovative, mission-critical communication solutions and services that help public safety and commercial customers build safer cities and thriving communities.
Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Order to Keep Guns Out of Dangerous Hands
October 15, 2015 | Virginia News
RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed an executive order directing actions to keep guns out of dangerous hands by better enforcing existing Virginia law. The Governor signed the executive order at a press conference alongside U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Attorney General Mark Herring and members of the law enforcement and gun safety advocacy community.
“The actions directed in this executive order will help our Commonwealth better enforce Virginia laws designed to keep guns away from people who would use them for harm,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The task force I have convened will take tangible steps to bring more successful prosecutions of gun crimes, and the other steps outlined in the order will aid in our efforts to keep families safe from gun violence. We must continue to work to overcome political resistance to commonsense gun safety legislation, but in the mean time I am committed to using every power of my office to prevent senseless killings.”
The Governor has made reducing gun violence a central focus of his administration. In today’s press conference he listed common sense legislative proposals, like universal background checks and keeping guns away from violent criminals, domestic abusers and stalkers, which were rejected by Republicans in the General Assembly. As he signed today’s executive order, he pledged to introduce legislation again in the upcoming session and to continue to make the case for preventing gun crime in communities across the Commonwealth.
The full text of the Governor’s executive order is below:
NUMBER FIFTY (2015)
EXECUTIVE ACTION TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE
Importance of the Issue:
Like too many communities around the nation, cities and counties across the Commonwealth have experienced the devastating effects of gun violence. While Virginians will never forget the tragic massacre of young promise that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007, or the most recent murders of two young journalists on air in Roanoke, gun violence has tragically impacted families and communities from Lee County to the Eastern Shore, from Loudoun to Halifax in ways that have changed those communities forever.
Through the efforts of many Virginians within both the public and private sectors, our Commonwealth has taken great steps to limit access to guns to those who have mental health issues, previous felony convictions, or a current protective order. But, as events around our nation and Virginia’s own recent history show, more must be done.
It has been estimated that nearly 40% of all guns sold in America are sold by private, unlicensed sellers either online or through gun shows. These sellers are not required by federal or state law to perform any background checks before transferring a firearm. While law enforcement can appropriately monitor the compliance of Federal Firearm Licensees (“FFLs”), unlicensed sellers face little to no regulation in their selling of firearms. Without appropriate safeguards, this large gap in our firearm regulatory scheme gives criminals and other persons incapable of passing a background check easy access to firearms. In a state where open carry is lawful, our law enforcement personnel have no way to determine if a person openly carrying a firearm is in lawful possession or a convicted criminal taking advantage of a gap in our regulatory system.
The ease of access to firearms by criminals and others intent on harm is even more concerning when viewed in light of the general open access to our public facilities. Every day, over 60,000 Virginians report to work in state government buildings across the Commonwealth to provide services to their fellow Virginians. Our citizens rely on open access to these facilities to address their personal and professional needs. Whether it is to incorporate a business, renew a driver’s license, apply for a job, seek a permit, or just to attend a public hearing, our government facilities are essential to allowing our citizens access to their government representatives. Allowing open carry in these facilities by individuals who may not lawfully possess a firearm exposes our state employees and fellow citizens to unnecessary risk.
There is no magic solution to curbing gun violence. As the National Institute of Justice noted, no single approach will prevent gun violence: “To reduce gun violence, a sustained program that addresses both demand and supply is needed. A successful intervention will have elements of federal-local law enforcement collaboration, community involvement, targeted intervention tactics and continuous program evaluation.”
My administration, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, along with federal and local law enforcement, is committed to doing everything within our power to prevent gun violence in our communities. Accordingly, pursuant to my authority under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the Code of Virginia, I am ordering the following:
I. Establish Joint Task Force to Prosecute Gun Crimes
There shall be established a Joint Task Force to Prosecute Gun Crimes (the “Task Force”), to be led by the Attorney General of Virginia and the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. The Task Force shall be comprised of representatives from state and local prosecutors and law enforcement, the Virginia State Police, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, along with federal partners in order to develop strategies and coordinate efforts to strictly enforce existing gun laws under state and federal law. Following from successful law enforcement efforts in the past, the Task Force will put special emphasis on enforcing two key protections under the law:
1.) That only licensed firearms dealers engage in the business of selling firearms.
2.) That persons prohibited from owning firearms are prevented from obtaining them.
The Task Force will rely principally on the investigatory powers of state and federal law enforcement agencies, in partnership with local agencies, in order to pursue effective enforcement actions, using both criminal and civil proceedings, to enforce the gun laws.
Additionally, I am asking the Task Force to identify those areas within our regulatory system that significantly hamper law enforcement’s ability to effectively pursue illegal transfers of weapons and how our Commonwealth can be better situated to address these areas.
II. Authorize Attorney General to Coordinate and Bring Criminal Cases Against Firearms Law Offenders
In order to facilitate enforcement of the existing gun laws, I am invoking my authority under § 2.2-511 and asking the Attorney General to coordinate these prosecutorial efforts and bring such cases as he may deem most appropriate in order to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from illegal firearms sales. I also reserve the right to initiate any other legal proceedings that may be necessary to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from illegal firearms sales.
III. Establish Tip Line for Illegal Gun Activity
The Virginia State Police coordinates the criminal background checks used by licensed firearm dealers to confirm that prohibited individuals are not able to purchase firearms. To aid in enforcement of the gun laws already on the books, I hereby order the Virginia State Police to establish a Tip Line that will enable citizens to report violations of the gun laws and to collect a reward for any successful prosecutions flowing from the information provided.
IV. Trace Guns Used in Crime
Gun violence occurs every day in the Commonwealth, oftentimes by individuals who should never have had a gun in the first place. In order to aid in the Task Force’s work, I hereby direct the Virginia State Police to set a policy to request tracing of every gun used in the commission of a crime in the Commonwealth, working with local and federal law enforcement to accomplish this goal.
Obtaining this information will be critical to enforcing the gun laws already on the books in Virginia.
V. Encourage Judges and Prosecutors to Seek Gun Forfeiture in Felony and Other Cases
Cases of domestic violence in which there is access to firearms often ends in needless tragedy. The power to prevent gun purchases, however, is not effective when the domestic abuser or felon already has access to guns.
Accordingly, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, we will be working, through training and advocacy, to encourage prosecutors and judges to use their broad power in both criminal sentencing and in domestic violence protective orders to require persons prohibited from obtaining guns to forfeit guns they may already possess.
VI. Banning Firearms in State Government Buildings
We must take every precaution to protect our citizens and state employees from gun violence. We cannot wait until a tragedy occurs to decide to address it. Prevention requires us to address areas of concern before they are realized. Accordingly, I hereby declare that it is the policy of the Commonwealth that open carry of firearms shall be prohibited in offices occupied by executive branch agencies, unless held by law enforcement, authorized security, or military personnel authorized to carry firearms in accordance with their duties. Within 30 days of the date of this Executive Order, the Director of the Department of General Services (DGS) shall issue guidance prohibiting carrying weapons openly in offices occupied by executive branch agencies.
I further order the Director of DGS, within 30 days of the date of this Executive Order, to propose regulations to ban the carrying of concealed weapons in offices occupied by executive branch agencies, unless held by law enforcement, authorized security, or military personnel authorized to carry firearms in accordance with their duties.
All Virginians have the right to feel safe and secure in going about their daily lives. The Governor of Virginia has no more sacred responsibility than to see to it that the public is safe, using all legal means to secure this right. My administration, in partnering with the Attorney General of Virginia, along with federal and local law enforcement, today renews and re-emphasizes this commitment. Working together, it is my hope that these initiatives will help reduce senseless gun violence in Virginia so that we may all feel more safe and secure living in our great Commonwealth.
Effective Date of this Order
This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect, unless otherwise amended or rescinded by further executive order.
Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this Fifteenth day of October 2015.
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$750,000 Grant Will Help Local Law Enforcement Strengthen Relationship with Local Communities
October 15, 2015 | Virginia News
RICHMOND -- Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the availability of $750,000 in Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds for training and equipment for local law enforcement agencies to help strengthen their relationship with their local communities in support of his “Policing in the 21st Century” initiative.
Police agencies, sheriff’s departments and regional training academies will be invited to submit grant proposals aimed at addressing, issues like, cultural diversity, de-escalation techniques, community relations and communications supports. The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) administers Virginia’s JAG funds and will award the grants to successful applicants.
“Building strong relationships within their communities is an essential part of the important public safety work our law enforcement agencies do,” Governor McAuliffe said. “It’s critical that officers get the training and tools they need to build trust and cooperation while enforcing the law effectively and fairly.”
“Building and sustaining trusting relationships with their communities remains the foundation for law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth as they confront difficult questions relating to the state of police-community relations and engage in culturally responsive policing,” said Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, who oversees DCJS. “I applaud the Governor’s investment in building trust and legitimacy in police- community relations. We know that law enforcement agencies throughout the Commonwealth are working hard to implement strategies that promote inclusivity and enhance community trust.”
“We encourage all law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth wishing to find creative, effective ways to partner with their communities to apply for this grant,” said DCJS Director Francine Ecker. “At this time of limited resources, we hope these grants will enable them to expand their training for the betterment of public safety in general, and for each community in particular.”
Information about applying for a grant, including grant guidelines and the required application forms, is available from the DCJS website, at www.dcjs.virginia.gov. Grant applications will be reviewed by staff at DCJS and by a subcommittee of the Department’s policy body, the Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB). The subcommittee’s recommendations will be submitted to the full Board for final action in early December.
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Office of the Governor
Contact: Brian Coy
Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
Contact: Greg Davy
Vinton Announces Retirement of Police Chief Ben Cook
October 8, 2015 | Virginia News
VINTON, VA – The Vinton Town Council has announced the retirement of Police Chief Benjamin L. Cook, effective October 25, 2015. A native of Franklin County, Cook came to the Vinton Police Department in 2001. He is retiring after nearly fourteen years of service with the Town, the last four years as Chief of Police, completing 30 years of service to the public.
Chief Cook began his career with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department in 1985. He also worked with the Franklin County Department of Public Safety as a Firefighter/Paramedic and a Fire Marshal, and with the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police Department as a Special Agent. In 2001, he joined the Vinton Police Department and has held various ranks since that time. In July 2011, Cook was named as interim Chief, and then appointed by Council as Chief of Police in December 2011. Chief Cook also served as the Emergency Services Coordinator for the Town, ensuring the emergency operations plan is up to date and coordinates emergency services functions during critical incidents. Cook has a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety/Criminal Justice from Bluefield College, is a graduate of the Virginia Forensic Science Academy, attended the Professional Executive Leadership School at the University of Richmond, and the Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar sponsored by the FBI.
When he announced his retirement plans to Council, Chief Cook was quoted as saying “I would like to thank Town Council, Town Staff, the men and women of the Vinton Police Department, as well as the citizens of Vinton for the support and trust they placed in me to serve as Chief of Police. The Vinton Police Department is a professional and dedicated law enforcement agency that will continue to serve our citizens well. I am also excited about the opportunity to be part of the LewisGale Medical Center staff and look forward to beginning this new chapter in my professional career”.
Mayor Grose thanked Chief Cook for his years of service to the Vinton community and for his dedicated service to the public over the past 30 years. “Chief Cook has served honorably and leaves an accredited department that is respected in our region. I look forward to a smooth transition with a very dedicated and strong police department. Our officers are highly committed to serving the Vinton citizens.”
During the transition, Town Council will appoint an Interim Chief at the October 20th Council meeting, who will lead the department until the recruitment process is complete.
Cook will be joining LewisGale Medical Center as Security Manager. In this position, he will provide management and oversight of security operations as well as coordinating emergency response activities and disaster planning for the facility. “LewisGale takes the safety and security of our patients, visitors, and employees very seriously, and we are very fortunate to have someone with Ben’s experience and skills assume this responsibility,” says Michael Abbott, Chief Operating Officer, LewisGale Medical Center. “We are looking forward to Ben joining our LewisGale family.”
About LewisGale Medical Center
LewisGale Medical Center is part of LewisGale Regional Health System which includes 4 hospitals, 2 regional cancer centers, 6 outpatient centers and affiliations with both employed and independent physicians. With 3,300 employees, its annual payroll is $245.6 million. The system also paid $31 million in taxes and provided more than $125 million in uncompensated care to those most in need in 2014 alone. LewisGale is also part of HCA Virginia, the largest and most comprehensive healthcare provider in the Commonwealth with nearly 15,000 employees. For more information see www.lewisgale.com.
For more information, please visit www.vintonva.gov, or call 540-983-0607.
DEA’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Effort A Big Success
October 1, 2015 | National News
Thousands of Americans in communities across the country discarded more than 350 tons of unused, expired, or unwanted drugs as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Initiative (NTBI) on Saturday, September 26.
This past weekend, more than 3,800 federal, state and local counterparts took in more than 702,365 pounds of unused, expired or unwanted drugs at more than 5,000 collection sites across the United States. This was the tenth NTBI event since September 2010; cumulatively, these events have collected 5,525,021 pounds of drugs.
“The numbers are shocking—approximately 46,000 Americans die each year from drug-related deaths. More than half of those are from heroin and prescription opioids,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “With four out of five new heroin users starting with prescription medications, I know our take-back program makes a real difference.”
The NTBI addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.5 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. That same study showed that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA’s NTBI events are also a significant piece of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s prescription drug abuse prevention strategy.
In his Weekly Address, President Obama spoke about the importance of preventing and treating substance use disorders and called on Americans to participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/26/weekly-address-dispose-your-expired-and-unwanted-prescription-drugs.
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Lynchburg names new police chief
October 1, 2015 | Virginia News
The city announced in a news release Monday that Raul Miguel Diaz, currently assistant police chief in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will assume his duties Nov. 19.
Parks Snead will retire effective Oct. 1 and is expected to name Maj. Jerry Stocks as acting interim chief, according to City Manager Kimball Payne.
“I am confident that Raul is the very best person for the position,” Payne said in the release.
“He brings both experience and knowledge to the office and has demonstrated his leadership abilities throughout his career.
"His philosophies of community policing and building relationships within the department, the organization and most importantly, the community, were all critical to my decision to offer him the job.”
The annual chief’s salary in Lynchburg is $128,000, according to Payne.
Payne chose Diaz after an “extensive nationwide search” involving an initial pool of more than 50 applicants.
That pool was narrowed down to three people, who Payne said had hour-long meetings with about 30 community stakeholders including representatives from schools, neighborhood watch groups and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Payne said the group asked itself “‘Is community policing an overused word? What’s next in community policing?’ And [Diaz] talked about community building in all aspects of the community, and that just really impressed us.”
Diaz began his service in Fort Lauderdale in 1989 and held a variety of positions before he was promoted to assistant chief in 2013. He also has served as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a job he described as similar to the television show “NCIS.”
“Working with people, working with the community; I’d probably have to say that’s the thing I enjoy the most,” Diaz said in a phone interview Monday.
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley said in a phone interview Monday that Diaz was a driving force in lowering the city’s crime rates through his work in a crime prevention and community outreach unit.
“He was the leader in coordinating those efforts in our police department … and I would say that definitely contributed to our success in reducing crime,” Adderley said.
The move north will be a drastic change in scenery for the 49-year-old, who will go from overseeing 200 detectives in Fort Lauderdale to about 170 officers in Lynchburg, according to the departments.
Diaz said he plans to address diversity among officers, who are primarily white males.
“I want us to be as diverse as the community we serve,” Diaz said.
He also acknowledged the difference in public record laws between Florida and Virginia, but was unsure exactly how that would play into the department’s transparency efforts.
“I come from a state and I come from a culture that if you ask me” for information, and it doesn’t hurt an ongoing investigation, “you’re entitled to it and we’re going to give it to you,” he said, adding he is unfamiliar with specific differences in the public records laws.
“I think that if the information that I have is going to build that trusting relationship in the community … I can release the info because it won’t hurt the integrity of an investigation,” Diaz said.
He declined to delve into his other goals or policies until he gets to know Lynchburg better.
“There’s some uniqueness to every community and I want to wait before I start talking about, ‘Well this is the way we did this over here,’ because it might not apply,” he said.
Farewell to the chief: Lynchburg bids Snead goodbye
October 1, 2015 | Virginia News
Community leaders from far and wide came together Tuesday afternoon to honor Lynchburg Police Chief Parks Snead as he enters the newest chapter of his 31-year career: retirement.
Guests mingled and chatted with one another over light refreshments at the Lynchburg City Schools Information Technology Center. Someone – no one would say who -- had found some of Snead’s old high school pictures and made a “Happy Retirement” banner to hang in the back of the room.
“…I understood there’s probably no more important decision that a city manager makes than choosing the person to lead the police department in a community like Lynchburg,” City Manager Kimball Payne said. “I think recently I made a good decision, but I know I made a great decision eight years ago when I asked Parks to be the chief of police for the city of Lynchburg.”
Snead was appointed chief in 2008 and officially retires on Thursday. Raul M. Diaz, the current assistant chief of police for the city of Fort Lauderdale, will take over Snead’s position Nov. 19, Payne announced this week.
“It has just been wonderful over the last number of years to see [Snead] be the face of the police department to city council,” Mayor Michael Gillette said. “…You have certainly put this community at ease at times where we might not have been as at ease and even when we’re not at ease you have been there as a comforting leadership figure. We just appreciate that tremendously.”
Payne and Gillette were only two of the many speakers at the event. Other speakers included Lynchburg Branch NAACP President Gerald Cheatham, Maj. Todd Swisher, Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette and former Lynchburg Police Capt. Brandon Zuidema.
“Having become a chief, you gain a different perspective on things,” Zuidema said, who is now police chief of Garner, North Carolina. “I now understand a little bit better some of things [Snead] did or didn’t do.”
Zuidema also thanked Snead’s family for supporting him and sharing him with the department over the years. At the end, Zuidema said that Snead was not only a great chief, but a great person.
“I learned a lot from you,” Zuidema said. “And I use a lot of it every day in what I do. And I’m proud to have worked with you and to call you a mentor and a friend…”
Throughout the presentation, Snead was presented with plaques, an engraved pocket knife, a new retired chief police badge and a shadow box showing his ranks throughout his career in Lynchburg.
Afterwards, Snead said being a police chief is an amazing opportunity to help and see Lynchburg change for the better.
“It’s a great position to watch the community grow,” Snead said. “What’s better than watching something grow?"
Va. DMV issues new Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates
September 29, 2015 | Virginia News
Holders of the old Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates have until October 4, 2015 to replace their “flag” plates with the newly designed plates. Please share this with all of your officers.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Joseph Hill, Assistant Commissioner
Virginia DMV Office of Enforcement and Compliance
Herring Announces Initiatives to Promote Safe, Impartial 21st Century Policing in Virginia
September 29, 2015 | Virginia News
Regional trainings and contemporary training academy materials will help police safely and effectively protect our communities while promoting fair and equal treatment for all
RICHMOND (September 29, 2015) — Attorney General Mark R. Herring today announced the first in a series of initiatives to promote safe, impartial, 21st century policing in Virginia, and to promote mutual trust and positive relationships between Virginia law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. After months of discussions with stakeholders including law enforcement agencies, community leaders, and others, Attorney General Herring will be launching a dual-track training initiative to provide current and future law enforcement officers with opportunities for contemporary, evidence-based training on topics including impartial policing, bias awareness, situational decision making, de-escalation, and use of force.
"Here in Virginia, we all share the common goals of ensuring that police can safely and effectively protect our communities, while guaranteeing that everyone is treated fairly and equally," said Attorney General Herring. "Those two goals are not in conflict. In fact, they're inextricably linked, and we have to get them both right if we're going to have the safe, successful communities we all want.
"Events across the country and even in the Commonwealth over the last year have tested the relationships between law enforcement agencies and their communities, maybe like never before. Fatal encounters between law enforcement officers and citizens, and the resulting community responses, have forced every community to take a close look at the way we police ourselves. I believe that we as a Commonwealth are strong enough to ask those hard, fundamental questions and seek the truth, wherever it leads.
"Over the last year, my team and I have met with community leaders, law enforcement officers, and other stakeholders to see what we should be doing as a Commonwealth to promote safe, impartial, 21st century policing, and to help bring communities and their law enforcement agencies closer together.
"Based on these conversations, I am launching a dual-track training initiative that will promote safe, impartial, 21st Century policing both in the short term and in the years to come. This dual-track training initiative will give new and experienced officers additional skills and tactics for safely dealing with potentially confrontational situations, and for ensuring that each member of the community is treated fairly and equally. These are the skills that can build trust, encourage communication and interaction, bring communities and their police departments closer together, make communities safer, and ultimately, save lives."
REGIONAL TRAINING INITIATIVE
During conversations with law enforcement leaders and community stakeholders, it became clear that there is a common interest in expanded professional development opportunities for law enforcement officers, particularly on skills that promote equal treatment, safety, and positive relationships between law enforcement agencies and their communities, such as impartial policing, bias awareness, situational decision making, and use of force.
To meet a need that has been identified by both law enforcement leaders and their communities, Attorney General Herring will host a series of regional, multi-day training sessions for experienced officers focusing on the skills that are necessary for effective 21st century policing. The trainings will be targeted to agencies in underserved areas of the state that may have difficulty offering these opportunities to their officers.
"During my most recent statewide public safety tour, I discussed this type of training with law enforcement agencies that span the full range, from big city and county police departments, to small and midsize departments that are under constant budget stress," said Attorney General Herring. "The departments that have done this kind of training say it's essential in modern community policing. I also heard from many law enforcement agencies, especially in rural or less populated areas, that would love this kind of training, but candidly, they told me they lacked the capacity to plan, fund, and execute these training sessions. Community leaders also told me that if we only did one thing to promote safe and impartial policing and to promote mutual trust and respect, this was what they wanted to see."
The OAG has already started working with Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and the Department of Criminal Justice Services to plan and secure top subject matter experts and resources for these trainings, which should begin in the Spring of 2016.
DEVELOPMENT OF CONTEMPORARY BASIC TRAINING ACADEMY MATERIALS
To ensure that Virginia is a national leader in modern, evidenced-based policing, the OAG will work with DCJS and public safety stakeholders to develop new, high-quality basic training academy materials that will target elements required by DCJS in a manner that emphasizes the skills necessary for successful 21st century policing, such as bias awareness, professionalism, use of force, de-escalation, and impartial policing. These training materials will be made available and accessible to all local and regional training academies.
"This is a huge project that is going to have a positive and sustainable impact on public safety throughout the Commonwealth, and working together, we will make sure Virginia is a national leader in promoting safe and impartial community policing," said Attorney General Herring. "In Virginia, we don't want to just meet the standards. We want to set them.
"These initiatives are in-line with the recommendations of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and with training initiatives supported by the U.S. Department of Justice and its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. They will also complement numerous efforts by local agencies that understand the value of these trainings and have begun pursuing them."
Law enforcement, public safety, and community leaders from across the Commonwealth expressed their support for these new collaborative training initiatives:
"More comprehensive and evidence-based police training and implementing representative and community-based policing will ultimately provide better protections for both law enforcement and the citizens they protect and serve," stated Congressman Bobby Scott. "I commend Attorney General Herring and Secretary of Public Safety Moran for working together to launch this new initiative, which will ensure that Virginia is leading the way in promoting better and safer policing."
"I wish to thank Virginia's law enforcement agencies that have spent the last 20 years building collaborative partnerships and trusting relationships with their communities," said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. "This collaborative initiative with the Attorney General's office presents an outstanding opportunity for those who have been successful in their community policing initiatives to help those who are looking to strengthen their efforts. They, along with my office, will be available to help them seek additional resources, training and new tools for building trust and legitimacy in policing in their communities."
"As President of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACO (VSC-NAACP), I wish to thank Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring for including VSC-NAACP in the proposed review of necessary changes and implementation of new procedures within and from the State Attorney General's Office," said Carmen Taylor, President of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP. "I am proud that his office has recognized that the VSC-NAACP can be and should be a valued ally in his efforts here in Virginia."
"The Virginia Sheriffs' Association applauds the Attorney General's effort to enhance relationships in our communities between law enforcement and the citizens of the Commonwealth," said John W. Jones, Executive Director of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association. "As Virginia's only local elected law enforcement officers, Virginia's sheriffs understand firsthand the importance of this effort and look forward to partnering with the Attorney General in this effort."
"Every officer in Virginia deserves to receive the best quality training we can provide to ensure their safety and the safety of our citizens," said Williamsburg Chief David Sloggie, President of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. "Our goal is to ensure that the critical components of our basic and in-service training are consistent statewide in both content and quality."
"The VACP looks forward to this opportunity to work with Attorney General Herring on this important training initiative," said Dana Schrad, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. "Virginia is poised to lead the nation in ensuring that our law enforcement officers receive the best professional training possible."
"The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives support Attorney General Herring in the efforts being made by his office to safely and effectively protect our communities while ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and equally," said Morris Roberson of the Central Virginia Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executrices (NOBLE). "This is not just an opportunity for the police to receive the additional training noted by Mr. Herring, but for our communities has a whole to get involved in our own safety and the safety of each other."
The OAG will soon be issuing a "Request for Proposal" for development of contemporary materials for basic training academies and will work with stakeholders throughout the process, including the Department of Criminal Justice Services, to ensure the Commonwealth's public safety goals are met. This is a large, transformational project that is expected to take 12-18 months.
In the coming weeks, Attorney General Herring plans to unveil additional strategies to promote safe, impartial, 21st century policing in the Commonwealth, and equal justice under the law.
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Contact: Michael Kelly
(804) 786-5874 (office)
(804) 356-5077 (cell)
DEA to Hold 10th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Sept. 26
September 22, 2015 | National News
Event will take place from 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, September 26th
September 22 - (Washington, D.C.) – This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, come to one of the almost 5,000 collection sites around the nation to return all unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs for safe and anonymous disposal. This is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) 10th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in the past five years.
Collection sites in every local community, manned by DEA and its local law enforcement and community partners, can be found by going to www.dea.gov or calling 800-882-9539. All states and some territories will be participating Saturday (with the exception of Pennsylvania and Delaware, which held their events earlier in the month).
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day addresses vital public safety and health issues. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medications, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – posing safety and environmental hazards.
“Our goal is to reduce the risk of addiction and the 46,000 overdose deaths a year that come with prescription drug abuse. Take Back Day is a great opportunity for folks to help reduce the threat,” Rosenberg said. "Please clean out your medicine cabinet and make your home safe from drug theft and abuse.”
DEA’s previous nine nationwide Take-Back events collected 4,823,251 pounds—more than 2,411 tons—of drugs.
VACP recommends shrouding of badges for Virginia State Police trooper who died in crash
September 21, 2015 | Virginia News
The VACP recommends that Va. law enforcement officers shroud their badges in honor of Virginia State Police Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith though the day of his funeral — Saturday, September 26.
Our sincerest condolences to Trooper Smith's family and friends and to the Virginia State Police.
Friday, September 25, 2015
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
St. Paul’s Baptist Church
4247 Creighton Road
Henrico, VA 23223
Saturday, September 26, 2015
St. Paul’s Baptist Church
4247 Creighton Road
Henrico, VA 23223
Burial will be private for family and VSP only.
For incoming Law Enforcement/Honor Guard:
LOCAL AIRPORT - Richmond International Airport (RIC)
Contributions can be made to the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund. Make checks payable to the VSPA-ERF and notate. "Smith" on the memo line of your check. Mail to VSPA. 6944 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA, 23225. Also, if anyone would like to make an online contribution through Paypal. Visit www.vspa.org and click on Emergency Relief Fund. It is important to put "Smith" in the note section of your Paypal contribution.
VIRGINIA STATE POLICE MOURNS LOSS OF TROOPER
Trooper Dies Following Traffic Crash in Prince George County
RICHMOND – Virginia State Police are mourning the loss of one of its own today after Trooper Nathan-Michael W. Smith died following a traffic crash in Prince George County. Trooper Smith, 27, of Suffolk, Va., becomes the Department’s 61st sworn employee to die in the line of duty. Trooper Smith was responding to what he believed to be a fellow trooper in distress when his patrol car ran off the road and crashed.
At 7:11 a.m., Monday (Sept. 21), Virginia State Police responded to a single-vehicle crash on Route 460 in Dinwiddie County. A 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck was traveling east on Route 460, near Airport Street, when it ran off the right side of the road and struck the guardrail. The adult male driver was transported to Southside Regional Medical Center, where he died later Monday morning. The fatal crash remains under investigation.
One of the troopers at the Route 460 crash scene radioed the state police Richmond Division dispatch to request rescue. When other troopers in the Area heard that request for rescue, they understood it to mean there was a trooper in distress. The troopers immediately began responding to the scene on Route 460.
At approximately 7:20 a.m., Monday (Sept. 21), Trooper Smith was en-route to the perceived distress call. As he took the I-295 south exit ramp to I-95 north in Prince George County, his Ford Taurus patrol vehicle ran off the left side of the ramp. The patrol car overturned onto its side and struck several trees before coming to rest in the trees. The trooper had to be extricated from the vehicle and was flown to VCU Medical Center. He died later Monday (Sept. 21) morning.
It was later determined that the troopers understood the initial radio call as a citizen administering CPR to a trooper at the Route 460 crash scene. When, in fact, it was a trooper and citizen administering CPR to the driver of the pickup truck.
The state police Richmond Division Crash Reconstruction Team is investigating the Prince George County crash, which remains under investigation.