Youngkin, Miyares Announce Violent Crime Task Force

Governor Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a violent crime task force composed of officials from the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Virginia State Police. Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bob Mosier will lead the task force alongside Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck Slemp.

“There is a clear recognition of a violent crime crisis in Virginia and my administration is committed to joining with community leaders, law enforcement, and Virginians around solutions with the Violent Crime task force,” Youngkin said in the Monday announcement. “We will take a comprehensive look at how we can address the rise in violent crime by providing more law enforcement resources, creating alternative and after-school activities for children, and addressing the fear that results in witnesses failing to show up for a criminal hearing.”

In 2021, Youngkin and Miyares ran on a public safety platform after Democrats called for criminal justice reform in 2020 amid demonstrations in Virginia cities in the wake of the George Floyd police killing.

In the June 2021 Crime Analysis Report from the Virginia State Police, overall violent crime decreased by 1.9 percent from 2019 to 2020, although homicides in 2020 increased 23.4 percent. Overall arrests decreased 24.8 percent. The VSP hasn’t released the 2021 report yet.

Youngkin’s announcement says state leaders have been meeting with leaders in Virginia Beach, Newport News, Norfolk, and Petersburg — a list that includes some cities with high-profile violence news reports.

Miyares has called himself Virginia’s top cop, and criticized Democratic efforts to ease certain crime-related laws and practices.

Republicans have pushed in the General Assembly for a group violence intervention program with a grant fund managed by Miyares’ office, while Democrats have pushed for a program that would create a separate center for firearm violence intervention not housed in the Office of the Attorney General.

Both of those bills have been continued to the ongoing Special Session, where they are stalled while budget negotiations continue.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to combating crime in the commonwealth. It requires collaboration and communication with law enforcement, local officials, and community leaders. My team is excited to be a part of this new task force and we’re eager to work with our partners in the executive branch to carry out new, innovative solutions that will help to reduce crime and keep our communities safe,” Miyares said in Youngkin’s announcement.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Jason Miyares” by Jason Miyares.

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