Bill targets violent crime

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A proposal bill earmarking resources to fight violent crime in Virginia would not include funding for Suffolk.

Del. Franklin P. Hall, D-Richmond, wants to do something different to fight violent crime in Virginia. So he recently submitteded Hall’s Violent Crime Reduction Program, which he introduced as a budget amendment, to would bring state and local governments together to combat crime.

Hall believes his plan is just the innovation that the commonwealth and its localities need to reduce violent crime.


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The program would invite the 10 cities and 10 counties with the highest violent crime rates to apply for grants, Hall said.

These 20 eligible localities, determined by the Virginia State Police’s 2004 figures, include the cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Roanoke, Hopewell, Portsmouth, Charlottesville, Newport News, Emporia, Danville and Bristol and Carolina, Clarke, Henry, Giles, Surry, Northampton, Greensville, Montgomery, Wise and Buchanan counties.

Suffolk recently announced plans to establish a task force of citizens, lawmakers and legal experts to deal with the growing level of violent crimes in the city. There were nine homicides, if the death of the Whaleyville toddler mauled to death by his familiy’s pit bull, in 2005, said Lt. Debbie George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department.

Suffolk, which ranked 12th statewide in violent crimes in 2004 with four reported homicides, would not be eligible for funding through Hall’s program.

“This is an opportunity to come together over a shared priority — cutting crime,” Hall said. “There are areas all over the country that have been successful in reducing crime because they have been innovative in their approach to fighting it.”

Cities and counties that receive funding could use it for projects aimed at preventing or reducing crime. Hall estimates that $4 million to $5 million would be given annually to the program. It would mark a new partnership between state and local resources. Cassandra Burns, the commonwealth’s attorney in Petersburg, is hopeful about Hall’s plan. Petersburg has one of the highest violent-crime rates in Virginia.

“Violent crime tears at the fabric of our community,” she said. “It is my hope that with this partnership with the state communities like Petersburg can look forward to finding innovative ways to improve the safety of our neighborhoods.”

Annie McCallum, a writer with the Capital News Service, contributed to this story.