RICHMOND, VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin Monday stood with Attorney General Jason Miyares, Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears, and mayors, police chiefs, and sheriffs from across Virginia to announce Operation Bold Blue Line, a series of concrete actions to reduce homicides, shootings, and violent crime.
“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,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “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.
“Today, I am announcing Operation Bold Blue Line, a sustained effort to comprehensively address the challenge we see happening across all our communities. 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.”
Operation Bold Blue Line:
- Supporting existing law enforcement by finally fixing pay and wage compression.
- Supporting new law enforcement with a comprehensive recruiting effort to attract law enforcement from other states and develop homegrown talent.
- Providing more support for all law enforcement, including more training and equipment.
- Ensuring law enforcement is backed up by prosecutors that can and will put and keep violent offenders behind bars.
- Providing additional resources to victims and witnesses, and funding community partnerships to help stop violent crime before it happens.
Virginia is leading the way by adopting innovative strategies to fight violent crime. A major investment of $13 million over the next two years in new group violence intervention efforts is underway with the combination of comprehensive law enforcement, prosecutorial, and community-based initiatives.
To execute violent crime reduction strategies, Virginia will make additional investments to recruit, train, and support more Law Enforcement Officers or “LEOs” in key departments.
With some cities facing vacancy rates approaching 40%, the Virginia State Police still have more than 250 unfilled positions, and the Virginia Sheriff’s Association estimates vacancy rates nearing 20% in their departments.
To combat this, Governor Youngkin announced a comprehensive plan to fix wage compression issues and increase funding for partnering community police. Working with the General Assembly to increase funding to cities and counties with community policing and violence reduction tactics, this plan includes provisions to prohibit partnering localities from “defunding” their police departments.
Operation Bold Blue Line will work to recruit the finest officers from Virginia and across the Nation, as well. To do this, a $30 million nationwide and homegrown recruitment effort will be launched in tandem with a new 8-week fast-tracked lateral training academy to expeditiously certify law enforcement in Virginia.
Operation Bold Blue Line will increase dual-enrollment and create “Badge & Degree” programs to broaden the pipeline of students who want to join the Virginia law enforcement. Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera will work with SCHEV and the Virginia Community College System to both increase dual enrollment opportunities for high school students and better target existing taxpayer funded “G3” public safety spending to sworn law enforcement and recruits.
Operation Bold Blue Line will accelerate the disbursement of $75 million for equipment and training to state and local agencies, work with the Virginia Retirement System to ensure retired law enforcement officers can collect benefits while working in new support roles, and collaborate with non-profits like Virginia Law Enforcement Assistance Program (Vto connect law enforcement officers with resources to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
Under the joint leadership of the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Department of Juvenile Justice, Operation Bold Blue Line will support community partners who support at-risk youth and focus on gang prevention and group violence intervention as well.
Operation Bold Blue Line will work with the General Assembly to fund a Victim/Witness Assistance Program to help police and prosecutors put violent criminals behind bars. The program would provide funds for reasonable lodging and relocation expenses, transportation, and the installation of systems and devices necessary to fulfill protective services.