Ed deeply respects our law enforcement community. Law enforcement personnel serve as the first line of defense in our communities, risking their lives every day when they confront those in our society who would do us all harm. Brave first responders frequently perform their vital work without proper credit or appreciation, let alone proper compensation.
- Improve Law Enforcement Compensation
The men and women who serve in law enforcement deserve our appreciation and respect. They also deserve proper compensation for the work performed. Virginia’s State Troopers, sheriffs, sheriffs’ deputies, local police and all those who risk their lives each day protecting our families must be properly compensated. Adequate compensation is not only a sign of respect and appreciation, it is a sign that we value public safety and will work to avoid the negative consequences of a declining force. Ed addressed the need to better compensate law enforcement in a letter to the General Assembly’s budget writers in December, requesting them to took action to improve law enforcement compensation. We can and must do more.
As our governor, Ed will direct his Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to study the establishment of a statewide pay band for law enforcement to include a variable housing allowance system that recognizes cost of living. Further, both experience and time of service must be considered in funding. In budget decisions, Ed will protect law enforcement funding and stabilize funding to ensure that law enforcement officers won’t have to worry about fluctuations in the budget.
- Line of Duty Act
When a member of law enforcement or first responder gives his or her lives or experiences permanent disability in service to Virginians, we must redouble our commitment to the officer and his or her family. We do this through the Line of Duty Act. Recent reforms to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Line of Duty Act, led by House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones, went into effect on July 1, 2017.
As governor, Ed will work closely with the legislature to reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to the families who have given everything in the line of duty.
- Virginia State Police Trooper Recruitment
One of the most important responsibilities of a governor is to lead the men and women of the Virginia State Police. The Virginia State Police has suffered dwindling numbers and recruitment challenges. We need to do more to grow and reward our state troopers. As governor, Ed would work to improve recruiting and establish a ROTC-style recruitment program at an institution of Virginia public higher education, such as the Virginia Military Institute that has a proven track record of men and women going into the state police.
- “599 Funding” for Local Law Enforcement
Our local police departments provide Virginians in communities across the Commonwealth critical protection from danger on the front lines of combatting crime. Our local police officers sacrifice to protect the communities they love. Currently, 175 cities, counties and towns receive “599” funds.
Ed will protect “599 Funding” to ensure the cities, counties and towns from Bristol to Fairfax to Smithfield to all receive necessary and predictable funding to keep Virginians safe from crime.
- Direct the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to Review the Organization and Service Delivery Model of Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)
The DCJS currently operates as primarily a policy agency and does not conduct sufficient training for law enforcement.
Ed will direct the Secretary of Public Safety to examine if the current service delivery model in support of law enforcement is correct to fulfill its mission to support and offer training that benefits law enforcement.
FIRE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
The men and women who serve in fire and emergency services protect us 24 hours a day. We must do more to recognize their sacrifice and contributions to the public safety.
- Cancer and Medical Registry for First Responders
Presently, the Commissioner of Health maintains a statewide cancer registry. Virginia should enact changes to record the occupation of all cancer fatalities. This policy recommendation would improve the Commonwealth’s ability to further evaluate the rate of cancer among firefighters and other hazardous occupations.
Ed would also pursue a tool to help track Hepatitis C, TB and other communicable diseases first responders and law enforcement can come in contact with. This is particularly important given the heightened risk of exposure to fentanyl through touch.
- Reduce Statewide Fire-Related Deaths
The Commonwealth must strive to reduce statewide fire related deaths and injuries. Working with nonprofit organizations, Ed will work to leverage existing resources to reduce the devastating impact of fires. This will be achieved through expanded fire and life safety education programs and responsible enforcement of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code.
- Host a First Responders Summit
In conjunction with law enforcement, Ed will create and annually host the Virginia First Responders Summit to celebrate our first responders and discuss and find consensus on issues unique to our first responder community. From the time a person dials the emergency dispatcher to the time the crisis ends, Virginians rely on our first responders to save lives, reduce harm and provide compassion. We must do more to take care of those who serve us.
Virginia, as history has tragically demonstrated, is home to many prime targets for those who want to attack America. In order for Virginia to be safe and for us to do our part in keeping the nation safe, we must continue to prioritize homeland security.
- Immediately Convene the Secure Commonwealth Panel
The Secure Commonwealth and Resilient Panel serves to monitor and coordinate the emergency preparedness of government at all levels in Virginia. This critical panel includes elected leaders, public health experts, first responders, business and industry and local government. On Day One, Ed will direct his Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to convene the Secure Commonwealth Panel within the first ten days of the Administration in order to fully evaluate the current state of readiness and report to him on any vulnerabilities and gaps in our public safety posture to protect all Virginians.
- Focus the Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Ed will also focus keenly on the ability of the VDEM to do its job in preparing, responding and recovering from both man-made and natural disasters. VDEM is a coordinating agency not an operational response agency. Any attempt to operate different is a disservice to the critical mission of the agency.
Ed will direct that VDEM maintain and build on its efforts to coordinate emergency management training, planning and execution with local jurisdictions. The Commonwealth must have an ongoing and cooperative relationship with the counties, cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Ed will ensure VDEM has state-of-the-art technology platforms that can be used (by both the state and localities) for situational awareness, planning, training, asset visibility and emergency operations so that the state and localities are linked and fully prepared to quickly respond to emergency crises.
GANG PREVENTION AND ERADICATION
Recent tragedies throughout Virginia have underscored the need for Virginia’s elected leaders to develop and execute a detailed plan to prevent and eradicate gang activity throughout our communities. Gangs prey on our most vulnerable communities, including immigrant communities who are trapped due to social, legal or economic restrictions. It is time for Virginia’s elected leadership to support law enforcement in their work to eradicate our gang problem before it grows.
- Appoint the Attorney General to Serve as the Commonwealth’s Anti-Gang Chief
In order for Virginia to tackle the gang problem with resources and coordination, Ed will designate the Attorney General to lead the Commonwealth’s response to the gang crisis. The Attorney General will work in conjunction with the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to develop a resources, legislative and executive action coordination strategy to deploy all necessary resources to end gang violence in Virginia.
- Reinstate Project Exile
Project Exile was pioneered in Virginia in 1997 to ensure the prosecution of dangerous criminals to the fullest extent of the law. Shortly after Exile was introduced in Richmond, the city experienced a drastic reduction in its murder rate. Project Exile and similar programs reduce violent crime by improving cooperation between state and federal authorities to vigorously enforce federal firearm laws against criminal gang members, drug dealers and other violent criminals. By pairing enhanced cooperation between federal and state law enforcement with an effective public awareness campaign, Exile also enhances the deterrent effect of the criminal justice system as a whole. If properly executed, Project Exile will improve public safety, reduce gang violence, and target the most violent criminals through effective enforcement of existing federal gun laws. Ed would work with the Attorney General, General Assembly, prosecutors, law enforcement and federal partners to ensure the effort is successful. Recently, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring suggested it may be time for Project Exile to return to Virginia.
- Secure funding for the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force
Former Congressman Frank Wolf successfully secured funding for the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force for many years to fund the important work of the task force. More recently, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock requested funding for the Task Force and its all-important multi-jurisdictional mission to prevent and eradicate gang activity. As governor, Ed Gillespie will work with the U.S. Department of Justice and state partners to secure long-term full funding for the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.
- Ban Sanctuary Cities in Virginia
The scourge of gang activity in Virginia takes different forms from region to region, but it is impossible to discuss gang prevention and eradication without addressing MS-13 and its impact in Virginia. A gang like MS-13 preys mostly on our immigrant community. While gang-related violence continues to impact the Commonwealth, some localities seek to establish sanctuary cities, creating potential safe harbors for these gangs by limiting the amount of information local governments can provide to federal immigration law enforcement officials. As governor, Ed will sign legislation to make sure every city, county and town follows the law so there are no sanctuary cities in Virginia.
- Reform the “predicate criminal act” definition to contain all felonies and violent misdemeanors
The Code of Virginia currently specifies more than 50 different actions that constitute a predicate criminal act that is prosecutable. Commonwealth’s Attorneys around Virginia have expressed concern with the cumbersome nature of prosecuting gang activity due to the exhaustive nature of the definition. For the safety of Virginians, Ed will consolidate the predicate criminal act definition to include all felonies and violent misdemeanors, providing a more efficient and effective path for law enforcement to put gang members behind bars.
- Expand the “Youthful Offender Program” at the Virginia Department of Corrections
The Youthful Offender Program at the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) should be expanded to include females at VDOC and expanded to the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
- Ensure the continuation of school resource officers (SROs) in schools
School Resource Officers (SROs) provide a critical link between school divisions and law enforcement. As governor, Ed will support SROs role in gang prevention and eradication.
- Pursue funding of the Witness Protection Programs in violent gang activity
When dealing with violent gang activity, Virginia’s criminal justice system needs the ability to engage Witness Protection Programs to protect those who witness a violent gang activity. Ed will work to enhance Witness Protection Programs for the most violent gang activity.
- Establish Gang Prevention Programming at Department of Education
Virginia’s school divisions play a critical role in gang prevention. We need school divisions and teachers to be at the forefront of the gang prevention effort. At the state level, we need to add capacity to school divisions to improve gang prevention. Ed will work with education and public safety leaders at all levels of government to accelerate prevention efforts in schools. Ed will direct his Secretary of Education and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to report on all available resources available for gang prevention within the first 100 days.
- Develop Alternative Educational Opportunities for Known Gang Members
Ed will work with educators and public safety professionals to develop alternative education programming for known gang members to prevent further recruitment of our children. Ed will work with out of school time programs to help divert children from gang activity.
Virginians must feel safe in their homes and communities. Job one for Virginia’s next governor is to ensure and maintain public safety.
- Recommit to Truth in Sentencing Reforms
The McAuliffe-Northam Administration explored the repeal of Virginia’s historic Truth in Sentencing reforms. Through the Commission on Parole Review Governor McAuliffe and Lt. Governor Northam entertained the idea until they heard from victims, experts and legislators. As a result of Governor George Allen’s historic reforms Virginia saw a precipitous drop in crime and now has the lowest recidivism rate in the nation.
As governor, Ed will recommit to Virginia’s Truth in Sentencing reforms. While many agree there are areas for reform, reinstituting parole is wrong for Virginia’s public safety.
- Ensure Crime Victims Receive Restitution for Medical and Other Bills
As governor, Ed will work toward ensuring that crime victims receive restitution for their medical and other bills. The Virginia Crime Commission did a study and found that there was $233 million in overdue, delinquent restitution. Restitution isn’t fines and costs, but the compensation paid directly to crime victims for their out-of-pocket costs like medical bills. The General Assembly considered and approved a proposal in 2017 that went through the crime commission and passed but was vetoed by the Governor.
- Protect Funding for Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Services
When someone in Virginia faces domestic violence crisis, they deserve support and compassion – and action. As governor, Ed will work with the General Assembly to protect funding for sexual and domestic violence victim services. Ed will also work to streamline programs and data to reduce paperwork and focus on services.
- Convene the Virginia Summit on Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Services
There are many organizations and partners working to serve victims of sexual and domestic violence. As governor, Ed would charge his cabinet to host an annual convening of advocates, organizations and leaders working to end sexual and domestic violence, provide services for victims, and ensure public policy is properly aligned to protect victims.
- Counseling for Sexual Assault Survivors
Victims of sexual assault deserve care and compassion from the law enforcement officer or counselor on the ground to the governor’s office in Richmond. We must do more to ensure victims of sexual assault receive access to counseling as they continue to heal from the physical and emotional trauma they endured.
- Fund the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Program
The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) administers the ICAC Fund Fund for local law-enforcement agencies’ use to enhance investigation and prosecution of internet crimes against children. Virginia currently has important laws to prosecute those who commit internet crimes against children, but we need to increase enforcement.
As governor, Ed will enhance funding for the ICAC program to protect children and families from those who wish to do them harm.
- Set Strategy to Functionally End Human Trafficking in Virginia
Human trafficking often goes on unnoticed to the untrained eye. Victims of human trafficking deserve their state government to enhance enforcement and policy to functionally end human trafficking in the Commonwealth.
As governor, Ed would work with the Attorney General to develop a long-term strategy with the goal of functionally ending human trafficking in the Commonwealth. A strategy of anything less is not fair to the victims and future victims of this devastating crime.
- Appoint a Statewide Prisoner Re-Entry Advisor
Ed will appoint a statewide prisoner re-entry advisor to improve the re-entry process for returning citizens. When convicted offenders serve time and return to society, we should endeavor to assist them in re-connecting and positively restarting their lives in society. The prisoner re-entry advisor for Virginia will be charged with developing a ten year strategy to improve key career, health, recidivism and education outcomes for returning citizens to ensure the full and lasting rehabilitation of Virginians.
Virginia faces threats seen and unseen. As governor, Ed will prioritize cybersecurity of Virginia’s public and private assets.
- Top to Bottom Review of VITA and State Agency Cybersecurity Preparedness
Virginia’s IT infrastructure, data and systems connect and store key information about Virginia’s agencies, citizens and resources. Cybersecurity must be a top priority of the next governor in order to protect the public trust. Ed will direct his Chief of Staff to initiate a top to bottom review of the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) and state agency cybersecurity preparedness. Ed will brief the General Assembly on Virginia’s current state of preparedness and make recommendations to avoid a crisis.
Further, Ed will direct VITA to initiate a comprehensive briefing for the Governor, Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees, as well as the Chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) regarding the disentanglement from the Northrop Grumman engagement and any security risks associated with the transition. Despite posturing from both the McAuliffe-Northam Administration and NG now, the public safety of the Commonwealth is too great to risk during this transition.
- Advance Cybersecurity Technology for the Public and Private Good
Cybersecurity is a key workforce and economic development issue facing Virginia. In order to advance cybersecurity technology for the public and private good, Ed will work to grow Virginia’s cybersecurity sector. In addition to jobs and capital investment, advancement in cybersecurity will enhance Virginia’s public safety by bringing new technology to market to benefit Virginians. From a bank card to a government transaction online, we need to keep up with those who seek to do us harm.
As governor, Ed will advance cybersecurity in Virginia by supporting the Center for Innovative Technology’s cybersecurity accelerator MACH37. MACH37 works to accelerate cybersecurity companies to create jobs and bring new technologies to market.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
As governor, Ed lead a state government that fosters redemption and reconciliation for all Virginians. In the weeks ahead, Ed will announce a detailed criminal justice reform to benefit all Virginians.
ADDICTION AND RECOVERY
In July 2017, Ed released his Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery plan. Please read the full plan, here.