(The Center Square) – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveiled a plan to reduce homicides, shootings and other violent crimes, which includes stronger police recruitment efforts, fixing wage compression among officers and ensuring prosecutors put criminals in jail.
“Across Virginia, people wake up and turn on the morning news to hear story after story of violence in their communities: homicides, shootings, and aggravated assaults,” Youngkin said in a statement. “With a nearly 40% law enforcement vacancy rate in some cities in Virginia, with too few prosecutors actually prosecuting, and with diminished community engagement and witnesses less willing to come forward, Virginia’s blue line is getting far too thin.”
The governor intends to work with the General Assembly to fix wage compression and increase funding for partnering community police through this plan, which he is calling Operation Bold Blue Line. This includes funding for violence reduction tactics and would prohibit partnering localities from defunding police departments.
Youngkin also intends to invest $30 million into nationwide and homegrown recruitment. The plan would also seek to bolster recruitment by creating an eight-week, fast-tracked academy for certifying law enforcement officers and increase dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students through G3 funding that is reserved for public safety.
Under the plan, the governor will accelerate the disbursement of $75 million for equipment and training to state and local agencies. The administration will also work with the Virginia Retirement system to ensure retired police can collect benefits while working in new rules and partner with non-profit groups to bolster the mental and physical wellbeing of police officers.
“I am announcing Operation Bold Blue Line, a sustained effort to comprehensively address the challenge we see happening across all our communities,” the governor continued. “Building on the common themes from the 14 meetings of our Violent Crimes Task Force across Virginia, together, we are taking clear, actionable steps to make our communities safer.”
Through this plan, Youngkin also intends to ensure prosecutors will keep violent criminals in jail and provide resources to victims and witnesses.
Attorney General Jason Miyares also announced Operation Ceasefire, which is a separate initiative, will partner with 12 cities to address violent crime and repeat offenders. The state budget deal provided about $5 million to the Operation Ceasefire program. The participating cities are Norfolk, Hampton, Petersburg, Roanoke, Newport News, Portsmouth, Richmond, Chesapeake, Danville, Martinsville, Lynchburg and Emporia.