Attorney General Mark Herring made a stop in Charlottesville Wednesday afternoon to learn about the area's public safety and mental health care challenges.
Herring said he wanted to hear directly from supervisors and law enforcement from Albemarle and Fluvanna counties and Charlottesville on ways his office could address the area’s needs. Wednesday was his sixth stop in a two-week tour, speaking with department heads from across Virginia. So far, he says there has been a common theme: funding.
Agencies need help with resources to, in many cases, handle an increased workload. Police chiefs, sheriffs, commonwealth's attorneys, and supervisors from across central Virginia gave their perspectives on what they need most.
One request was that the attorney general’s office re-evaluate how program or grant funding is divided among localities. Representatives from rural areas expressed concern that they are often less likely to be considered when they compete with urban areas. Even though all areas are cash-strapped these days, the argument is that some are hurting more than others.
"So what I'm going to do after I've completed this tour is take the things that I've heard and take an assessment of what our office is doing, what programs we have, what services we're a part of, and think about how I can retool them to better help localities address the challenges that they face,” Herring said.
Herring asked about crime trends in the area. Issues discussed varied from gangs, scams against senior citizens, and prescription drug abuse.
Another major theme out of this discussion was how the attorney general's office could help law enforcement address mental health issues. Some concerns addressed costs associated with an emergency custody order, but mental health has had a broader impact on court systems.
“How it impacts the criminal justice system and how many people who are suffering from mental illness find themselves in the criminal justice system - which is not necessarily the best way to address those problems - those are some of the ideas that we’re hearing that are similar,” Herring said.
He says a lack of funding has affected mental health care in both urban and rural areas.
He will cover a total of 22 regions throughout this tour. His last stop will be in Waynesboro next Friday.
Herring Hears Needs of Law Enforcement across VAMore>>
Natalie Wilson joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in April 2012.Full Story
Natalie Wilson joined the NBC29 news team as a general assignment reporter in April 2012. She is a proud alum of Howard University and is currently pursuing her Master's in Communication at Johns Hopkins. Email/ Full Story
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