Governor Bob McDonnell announced on Friday that his biennial budget will provide $55.3 million in targeted funding to support public safety around Virginia. The governor’s budget proposals include $22.2 million for sheriffs, Commonwealth’s Attorneys, and Circuit Court Clerk Deputies to fund new hires, reduce overcrowding in jails, fund long overdue pay increases and support other critical operations. Governor McDonnell also proposed $21.3 million in additional funding to assist local law enforcement through the “599” program.
Speaking about the announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “Local law enforcement plays a critical role in ensuring that Virginia’s streets and communities are safe. I began my career in public service as a prosecutor in the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. I know firsthand how hard the men and women who serve as Sheriffs, Commonwealth Attorney’s and in clerk’s offices work day in and day out to protect their communities and preserve justice for their fellow Virginians. These funds will provide the critical resources necessary to better serve the public and will play a vital role in ensuring a safe and prosperous Commonwealth in the years ahead.”
Governor McDonnell continued, “Additionally, 599 funding is an important way to provide local departments with the tools, facilities and support necessary to do their job and do it well. Over the last four years we have advanced legislation and provided funding for important public safety initiatives that support law enforcement, keep offenders off the street, and help transition those who have served their time back into their communities. This is good government. The additional 599 funding I have appropriated for the next biennium will help support local public safety services so that Virginia continues to be a safe place to live, work and raise a family. ”
The governor’s budget proposals include the following funding:
- Provide $3.2 million in funding for 48 temporary corrections officers for local and regional jails that are experiencing jail overcrowding issues through the Compensation Board. This funding is to help alleviate some of the overcrowding issues some localities are experiencing. Localities experiencing overcrowding will be identified by the Compensation Board. ($1,536,315 the first year and $1,679,216 the second year).
- Provide $3.0 million in funding to support 29 law enforcement deputies FY15 and 33 additional law enforcement deputies in FY16, for a total of 62 positions. These positions represent 25 percent and 50 percent of the necessary law enforcement deputies to meet the current requirement of 1:1,500 ratio. The Compensation Board will distribute these positions to sheriff’s offices with law enforcement responsibilities. ($928,203 the first year and $2.1 million the second year).
- Provide $1 million in funding to expand the Career Development Programs for certain constitutional officers, including Sheriff’s and Commonwealth’s Attorneys, as well as members of their staff. This funding is targeted for those individuals who have already qualified but have been waiting to participate in career development programs due to insufficient funding. (Total of $770,513 each year).
- Provide $9.3 million to support a two percent salary adjustment for entry level (grade 7 and 8) sheriff deputy positions working in a sheriff office and regional jail. (Total $4.7 million each year).
- Provided $12.4 million over the biennium to support the opening of Rappahannock/Shenandoah/Warren (RSW) Regional Jail on October 1, 2014, and Southwest Virginia Regional Jail on November 1, 2014. (Total $4,589,971 the first year and $7,767,497). This covers funding positions to staff the new jails.
- Provide $4.2 million in funding to support the second phase of assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney’s salary increase to achieve a starting salary level of $52,000 per year ($2.1 million each year). The first phase was provided in the 2013 Session of the General Assembly. Each of the 577 full-time assistant Commonwealth’s attorneys will receive a $3,308 increase and the 11 part-time assistant Commonwealth’s attorneys will receive a $1,654 increase.
Circuit Court Clerks Deputies:
- Provide over $860,000 in funding to support a four percent salary adjustment for Circuit Court Deputy Clerk I positions, and a two percent salary adjustment for Circuit Court Deputy Clerk II positions. (Total $430,789 each year).
- State Aid to Localities with Police Departments (“599” Program)
- Provide $21.3 million over the biennium to assist localities with qualified law enforcement departments through the “599” program. The Department of Criminal Justice Services administers the program to enhance public safety efforts across the Commonwealth. To be eligible for “599” funds, a locality must have a police department as defined in §9.1-165, and all of the department's law enforcement personnel must meet the state's minimum training requirements.
Public Safety Accomplishments during McDonnell Administration
- In 2012, successfully spearheaded the most aggressive tough-on-crime legislative agenda by a governor since the abolition of parole in 1995, including: tougher penalties for violent sex offenders and repeat drug dealers; mandatory minimum life sentences for rape or forcible sodomy of a child under 13
- Successfully advanced legislation to add 19 additional felonies to the gang predicate criminal statute, including burglary, grand larceny, aggravated malicious wounding, and violations of manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance or marijuana
- Established first statewide prisoner re-entry plan and re-entry coordinator, contributing to Virginia having the second lowest recidivism rate in the country at 23%
- Managed state response, recovery, and mitigation activities associated with 7 federally declared natural disasters
- Along with the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Resources, convened the Governor’s School and Campus Safety Taskforce to identify legislative and policy enhancements for school and campus safety and increase effectiveness of training and programs, and implemented multiple legislative and budget policies
- Established first statewide anti-gang plan and appointed first statewide anti-gang coordinator
- First Department of Forensic Science implementation of familial DNA searching
- Completed state-of-the-art Virginia State Police driver training center at Fort Pickett
- Improved Virginia’s laws against human trafficking resulting in Commonwealth going from bottom (red) to top (green) in Polaris project rankings
- Directed the Department of Social Services to develop plan for providing services to victims of human trafficking and increased penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for soliciting prostitution from a minor
- Established the Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board to reduce domestic and sexual violence, improve services to victims, and hold offenders accountable; the advisory board made 33 recommendations to enhance policies and procedures
- Initiated the public safety compact: a local, state and federal partnership designed to prevent and reduce crime, and increase inter-agency cooperation and coordination
- Opened the new state-of-the art River North Correctional Center in Grayson County
- Developed and opened the public safety training center at the site of the former Hanover Juvenile Correctional Center
- Partnered with localities to implement Operation Rolling Thunder: a strategic law enforcement initiative to reduce violent crime and property crime
- Eliminated an agency and merged core services into two other public safety agencies