WATCH: Governor Youngkin outlines public safety initiative

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 3:01 PM EDT
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NORFOLK, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Glenn Youngkin said Monday that Virginia’s Thin Blue Line is getting far too thin.

The remarks were made with and before a group of leaders from across the Commonwealth in Norfolk, representing various municipalities and law enforcement agencies.

They converged following a round table discussion with the governor to support his new public safety initiative he called Operation Bold Blue Line.

The Governor mentioned the presence of the Bedford County Sheriff, the Chief of the Roanoke Police Department, Roanoke’s Gun Violence Prevention Coordinator and leaders from the Danville Police Department.

They were joined in Norfolk with representatives from various agencies across the Commonwealth.

Governor Youngkin rolled out his plan for strengthening law enforcement in the Commonwealth which he said is struggling with recruitment and retention.

Operation Bold Blue Line calls for investing in law enforcement. Governor Youngkin wants to sign into law legislation aimed at what he says is wage compression in various agencies.

“We will include proposed pay fixes for those positions directly supported by the Commonwealth,” said Youngkin, “and we will also work with the General Assembly to increase funding for local police departments, who commit to using the funds to invest more in law enforcement engaging in comprehensive community policing, and violence reduction tactics.”

He also wants to accelerate $60 million in budgeted funding in the form of grants to local agencies for training and equipment.

“And we will increase the opportunities for current law enforcement to find that training and support,” the governor explained, “in part by doing our best to get our retired law enforcement back on the force in new roles, including Yes, in the field, but also as trainers and school resource officers.”

And Youngkin is calling for a focused recruitment campaign to bring more than 2,000 additional officers to Virginia.

“That’s why I’m proposing the following concrete steps, a $30 million nationwide recruitment campaign to bring in sworn law enforcement heroes from other states, especially those that do not support law enforcement,” he said. “They want to come here. And also from federal and military jobs through targeted outreach and competitive bonuses.”

The governor proposed a full time recruiting coordinator and has instructed the Secretary of Education to put forth initiatives in community colleges in particular and higher education in general to foster homegrown recruits.

“We need to inspire the next generation of Virginians into this most noble career,” said the Governor. “And we’re going to get this done. I’m also asking Secretary Guidera to work with all Virginia institutions of higher education to create a badge and degree program that helps law enforcement recruits who go on to serve their community to get a degree at little or no cost to them. This will include prioritizing the public safety participation in the existing taxpayer funded G3 program in the Virginia community colleges.”

And to the officers already working in the state, the Governor said he is focused on making sure they and their families are supported with the resources they need for physical and mental wellbeing.

The final pillars of the five-part plan include hiring more prosecutors and doing more to support crime victims and witnesses.