Some cities in Virginia have a 40 percent vacancy rate in their police departments, almost entirely the result of absurdly low pay.
The lack of cops, plus shortages in manpower in Commonwealth’s attorney offices, also a result of low pay, are the result of a lack of support from local and state government, a bipartisan problem in Virginia, which has been trying for decades to do criminal justice on the cheap.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin is at least paying lip service to the problem.
The Republican announced on Monday the launch of an initiative he’s calling Operation Bold Blue Line, which was short on specifics in terms of how much money he’s going to ask the General Assembly to provide to fix the low-pay issue.
The rollout did have details like $13 million being proposed over the next two years in new group violence intervention efforts, $30 million for a recruitment effort that would be launched in tandem with a new eight-week fast-tracked lateral training academy to expeditiously certify law enforcement in Virginia, and $75 million for equipment and training for state and local agencies.
The key will be actual progress in addressing the low, low, low pay.
“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. With a nearly 40 percent 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,” Youngkin said.
This is from a press release from his office, which sounds more political than aimed at solutions, unfortunately.
One way you can tell: the presser had a line about how the initiative prohibits partnering localities from defunding their police departments, as if that idea even had traction back in 2020 when it was first brought up on the fringes of the left.
If the sales pitch to state lawmakers is going to mirror the press release, this Operation Bold Blue Line isn’t going to do anything to address the actual problem, but it might be something that you see in more press releases from the Youngkin folks when he runs for president.