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Commonwealth of Virginia
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Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING CONCLUDES TWO-WEEK STATEWIDE PUBLIC SAFETY TOUR

~ More than 60 localities participated in 22 regional meetings ~

Richmond--Attorney General Mark R. Herring concluded a statewide public safety tour today with a regional meeting with representatives from Waynesboro, Staunton, and Augusta County. Over the last two weeks, Attorney General Herring has traveled more than 2,500 miles to hold 22 regional meetings with representatives from more than 60 cities, counties, and towns. Along the way he has heard from local public safety and law enforcement leaders and local elected officials about unique challenges in their area and ways that he can help protect our communities.

"I am extremely grateful that so many public safety professionals were willing to share their experiences with me over the last two weeks," said Attorney General Herring. "After listening to the law enforcement communities from Fairfax to Bristol, and Virginia Beach to Winchester, I have noticed some common concerns across the state, as well as some characteristics of successful communities. The insight gained during these meetings will be invaluable as I work to ensure that the Office of Attorney General is a productive partner for our local law enforcement and prosecutors."

Attorney General Herring intends to continue his outreach to law enforcement and criminal justice professionals throughout his term, including those in localities who were not able to participate in this round of meetings.

Below is a selection of news coverage of meetings during the statewide public safety tour:

Local officials tell Herring of heroin, mental health issues
The spread of heroin and coping with mentally ill people adrift in society topped the list of worries local authorities brought before Attorney General Mark Herring on Monday in Winchester. Herring, a Democrat who was a state senator before he narrowly defeated State Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, in the attorney general's race in 2013, told the gathering of about 25 that a shortage of funding has been one of the common themes he has heard in visits to other parts of the state..."While I don't have a vote on the state budget any longer," Herring said, "I will be an advocate for you. I know you can't do law enforcement and prosecution on the cheap."...[Sheriff] Williamson, a Republican, said he voted for Obenshain in the election but appreciated Herring's outreach effort to local law enforcement officials like himself. "It's the first time I've ever been sought out by an attorney general asking my opinion, and I think that's commendable," Williamson said.(By Joe Beck, NV Daily)

Dealing with drug issues tops the list for law enforcement
Newly elected and aiming to make a difference, Attorney General Mark Herring was in town on Tuesday. Mayor Chip Coleman had nothing but praise for Herring's office sharing with the group how working with them was already proving very easy and effective. The group consisted primarily of law enforcement personnel from the Town of Culpeper, the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office and the Virginia State Police...Herring, who is visiting some 22 locations throughout the state, said that he wants to hear directly from law enforcement so that his office can better help the challenges that county's face in addressing public safety issues. Hearing about the increase in heroin use was not surprising to Herring. "We're hearing the same thing out of Northern Virginia, the Valley...it's a growing problem and I'm wondering what accounts for this rise," said Herring. "Do we go after the distributors? Do we do more education in our schools? Do we make the public more aware?"...Herring was very appreciative of the opportunity to meet with local officials. "I value these small group settings," said Herring. "I want to help."(By Anita Sherman, Culpeper Times)

Herring hears safety issues
Many of the officials at Tuesday's meeting expressed satisfaction with the discussion...Others expressed surprise that Herring made the meeting a priority during his first few months in office. "He didn't have to take this time to come and have regional, more personal meetings with the public safety community," said Fredericksburg Commonwealth's Attorney La Bravia Jenkins. "The beginning of my term was the best time to do this, so that all concerns can be heard and local resources can be dispersed accordingly," said Herring. "The point of these meetings is to find out how I can help and to take care of specific regional needs."(By Donnie Johnston and Hope Racine, Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star)

Attorney general gets earful from law officers        
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring discussed area law enforcement issues with local officials Thursday in Martinsville..."I wanted to hear directly from law enforcement and local prosecutors who are on the front lines of keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe each and every day about the challenges they face and how I can help them and my office can help them," Herring said. The attorney general is on a two-week tour of the commonwealth in which he is attending 22 meetings covering 60 jurisdictions in all regions...During the roundtable session, Herring spoke infrequently, instead listening to the comments and concerns of community leaders...Throughout the discussion, Herring took notes and highlighted certain points that he said he would investigate further. "I don't think there's going to be a simple answer to all of the challenges we face," he said, "but cooperation, communication and coordination act as force multipliers, and different agencies bring different strengths to a problem. When you work together, you're able to be more effective."
(By Ben R. Williams, Martinsville Bulletin

Herring Hears Needs of Law Enforcement across VA
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 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...He will cover a total of 22 regions throughout this tour. His last stop will be in Waynesboro next Friday.(By Natalie Wilson, NBC29 Charlottesville)

Attorney General Mark Herring Makes Danville Stop on Public Safety Tour
Right now, state Attorney General Mark Herring is touring the state trying to pinpoint the biggest challenges facing the people out there protecting our communities and today Danville was one of his stops. Local government officials came together with law enforcement and first responders to brief Herring on public safety in Danville and Pittsylvania County. Those in attendance came ready to voice their concerns and Herring came to listen and hopefully find ways to help... Herring is making that a top priority in Virginia through a statewide public safety tour. "Over 60 jurisdictions have participated and this will help me as I look at ways to reallocate and reprioritize my office in ways that is going to best help our local communities." Herring asked questions and gave honest feedback on several issues including gangs, school safety, and overcrowded jails. As he left for his Lynchburg stop, he promised to keep an eye on the Southside. "I need to hear directly from them what challenges they face as they try to keep our communities safe. And they do a great job." (By Whitney Delbridge, WSET Lynchburg/Danville)

Mark Herring visits with law enforcement officials
Herring's stop in Danville was part of a two-week statewide public safety tour designed to give him the opportunity to meet with police departments, sheriff's offices and commonwealth's attorneys to open a dialogue and discuss ways to make Virginia safer. During the "informal discussion" - as Herring called it - he said he wanted to address a number of issues. "I want to hear directly from those who know best about the ways the attorney general's office can work for the people of Virginia and best serve each community," Herring said. "I hope these conversations will provide valuable input on how best to focus our energies and allocate our offices' resources."...During the meeting, Herring listened carefully to the myriad of problems and suggestions offered by law enforcement officials and dutifully took notes. He thanked them for taking the time to share their concerns with him. The attorney general's office is "uniquely positioned to coordinate responses" to growing public safety concerns, Herring explained, and is there to advocate for the needs of law enforcement officials and prosecutors. "I want to be here as a partner with you," Herring said in closing. (By Allison M. Roberts, Danville Register and Bee)

Herring Offers Hand To Local Law Enforcement
Attorney General Mark Herring returned to his hometown of Leesburg this morning to lend an ear to those on the front lines of local and state law enforcement. Representatives from Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, Leesburg Police Department, Virginia State Police, as well as Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman, Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd and Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro gathered in the Leesburg Town Council Chambers to give the new attorney general, who lived most of his life in Loudoun, an update on local public safety concerns and let him know how his office might be able to help address them. The meeting was the ninth of 22 public safety meetings with 59 different localities Herring has on his schedule this spring. The goal, he said, is to help localities make their communities-and Virginia-safer. "I really wanted to hear directly from you all about the public safety challenges you're facing and talk about how we might be able to help you address them."...The attorney general jotted down notes as the dozen at the table shared examples of the heavy workload their departments face. "I will take this information and go back and look at how we can hopefully identify ways to serve you all and the public better," he said. In the public safety meetings he's held throughout the commonwealth, the most repeated request he's heard is for more funding. "It probably comes as no surprise that I've yet to hear from a department that says they have all the resources they need," Herring said, and noted that he no longer has a vote on the state budget. "But I will be an advocate."(By Danielle Nadler, Leesburg Today)

Virginia Attorney General visits Bristol
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was in Bristol Wednesday afternoon talk with local law enforcement about problems they see in our region...Herring says one thing they will look at is strengthening violation of protective orders and giving first responders more tools to help. "They can talk with a victim and make an assessment of whether that victim might be at risk of re-victimization again and help the victim get the help that they need to make sure that they are not re-victimized," he said.(By Lyndsey Price, WCYB Bristol)

Va. Attorney General visits Bristol
Virginia's new Attorney General Mark Herring joined Bristol community leaders for a round table discussion Wednesday. They talked possible solutions to some of what Bristol leaders say are the most prevalent public safety problems in the area like meth and domestic violence."I'm traveling around the state meeting with law enforcement, local law enforcement, to talk about public safety challenges that they face, I want to try and look at ways that I can run the office of attorney general more efficiently, more effectively, perhaps redirect some resources," Herring said. Herring is on a 22-stop trip around Virginia visiting with local community members, but this area is especially close to home for him, he was born in Johnson City.(By Allie Hinds, WJHL Bristol)

Public safety concerns over mental health issues
Law enforcement officials from across Southwest Virginia met at City Hall with Attorney General Mark Herring, who is conducting a statewide listening tour about public safety issues...Other topics included tighter restrictions on precursors for making methamphetamine and funding for cleaning up meth labs, improving domestic violence laws and ways to address synthetic and prescription drug abuse..."The General Assembly has underfunded mental health for years and we need to find some ways to make the mental health services available in the community so that people suffering from mental illness can get the treatment they need rather than end up in the criminal justice system, where it takes officers off the streets," Herring said. "We need to find a better way to address the problem."(By David McGee, Bristol Herald Courier)

Mark Herring gets details on Roanoke mental health program
[Roanoke Sheriff Tim} Allen described the program Wednesday during a meeting called by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who is on a statewide tour to hear from local sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. One of the themes to emerge from the meetings in Roanoke and elsewhere is the need for better mental health treatment, Herring said...Wednesday's meeting was the 17th of 22 that Herring plans to hold across Virginia. Other concerns raised elsewhere have been the rising use of heroin and the proliferation of gangs, he said...While the topics are similar, the best way to address them might be different from region to region, Herring said. "By talking to the local officials, I'm better able to get a feel of what works and what doesn't work," he said.(By Laurence Hammack, Roanoke Times)

Virginia Attorney General meets with local law enforcement officials
Herring was making his 17th stop on a statewide listening tour. In the audience were most of the leaders in Roanoke's law enforcement community. The wide-ranging dialogue touched on many problems including drug abuse and gangs, but the subject that generated the most discussion was mental health. "We've heard a lot about the tragedy involving Senator Deeds' son and the short time that was available to try and look for a bed," Herring said in an interview, "but at the same time a lot of localities understand that the way the process works, if the time is extended that may just end up taking a police officer or a sheriff's deputy off the street." And Herring said a long-term solution will ultimately hinge on adequate funding for critical mental health services.(By Joe Dashiell, WDBJ7 Roanoke)

Mark Herring addresses law enforcement concerns in Roanoke Valley
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring spent part of his day in the Star City speaking with public safety officers across the Roanoke Valley. It's part of a 22 stop tour across the Commonwealth, with Herring speaking directly with local leaders about problems and concerns his office can better address. "It may be different in the Roanoke Valley than areas like Hampton Roads or Northern Virginia or Richmond, as well as what solutions might best address them," Herring said. "Those are all different and we have to take those into account."(By Aaron Martin, WSLS Roanoke)

Attorney General Mark Herring visits Petersburg
Petersburg is the 15th locality visited by the attorney general in a 22-stop regional public safety tour of the state. Chiefs, sheriffs, elected officials, commonwealth's attorneys and other law enforcement professionals from the Tri-Cities and surrounding counties, attended the forum at Union Station. During the two-week tour, Herring will receive feedback from officials about the public safety challenges faced by their communities. Invitations were sent to 58 localities. Herring said the tour is part of efforts to reach out to "people who are on the front lines of law enforcement and to hear the challenges [law enforcement officials] have faced in [their] localities." Some of the issues discussed at Tuesday's forum were mental health priorities, property crimes, funding of law enforcement efforts, gangs and the sale of the drug spice. Herring said a lot of issues concerning mental health issues and law enforcement centered around not having available space. "It comes down to making health services and beds available," Herring said. As the attorney general gets feedback from Virginia localities, he is working with a three-member panel to improve the efficiency of his office. The panel consists of consists of experts in state government, large law firm management and private sector management.(By Leah Small, Petersburg Progress-Index)

Local Officials Meet With AG On Heroin
Herring met with area sheriffs, other law enforcement leaders, and prosecutors at the Timbrook Public Safety Building, 231 E. Piccadilly St., as part of a two-week tour, which wraps up Friday and involves 22 stops and meetings with 58 jurisdictions. When Herring started off the conversation by asking what some of the region's big public safety problems are, heroin was the first issue cited.(By Sally Voth, The Winchester Star)

Mental health a chief concern for Fairfax law enforcement
Mental health was at the top of the list of concerns last week when Fairfax County's top cops met with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Herring met with local county, municipal and law enforcement officials on March 21 as part of a two-week, 22-stop regional public safety tour across the state. Fairfax County was Herring's 11th stop, marking the halfway point through his tour. In attendance at the Fairfax County meeting were Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler, City of Fairfax Police Chief Rick Rappoport, Town of Vienna Police Chief James Morris, Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Alessi, deputy county executive in charge of public safety David M. Rohrer, and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, among others. When Herring asked the assembled group what the county's number one public safety concern was, the unanimous answer was that law enforcement resources are being increasingly and inordinately spent on individuals with mental health issues.(by Gregg MacDonald, Fairfax Times)

'Poison on the street'
... one a dozen of local and state law enforcement and government officials who participated in a sit-down conservation with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Tuesday morning at the Culpeper Police Department... Attorney General Herring asked Culpeper officials what sort of community resources are available for those battling addiction or other mental health issues...  Herring said the [heroin] epidemic is also occurring in Northern Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, in Hampton Roads and all over. "There are multiple strategies that need to be employed," he said. "It is very, very dangerous and I think we all need to work together to try to address it in a multi-faceted way. Part of it is going to be with law enforcement and prosecution, part of it is treatment, but a lot of it needs to be education so that people never get started in the first place."(By Allison Brophy Champion, Culpeper Star Exponent)

VA Attorney General Meets in Fredericksburg with Local Law Enforcement
Attorney General of Virginia Mark R. Herring was in Fredericksburg March 18 as part of his statewide tour to meet with local public safety, law enforcement and elected officials. "My office's resources need to be deployed in sync with the top priorities I hear from those who are on the front lines in law enforcement every day," Herring told those seated around a table in the conference room at the Fredericksburg Police Department. "What are your main public safety threats, what are some of the emerging problems that you see coming up, how have we worked well together in the past, and what is it I can do as attorney general or our office can do to help you meet the challenges you face every day," Herring asked those assembled.  "I'm interested in knowing where you see the problems, and also programs you think are working well and serving the community well."...Herring has scheduled 22 regional meetings statewide as he begins his tenure in the attorney general's office.  The meetings are part of a bigger plan. "I have several things going on at the same time.  I have a group looking at ways to streamline some of our operations to make them more efficient, more transparent; and make sure the office is running as efficiently as the state's law firm should. We're doing a top to bottom review of all the programs and services we're a part of and also looking at what resources we have available to serve those. After I listen to local law enforcement and prosecutors, I'll go back and match that up with our assessment of what we're doing and ways we're serving the community, looking to make sure our resources are deployed in a way that fits with the priorities of the communities around the state."(By Susan Larson, Fredericksburg Today)

Herring hears concerns of localities
Area officials Wednesday told state Attorney General Mark Herring they want more state resources to deal with a raft of issues such as mental health and gangs. The top prosecutor's roundtable session with officials from Charlottesville and Albemarle and Fluvanna counties is among 22 scheduled statewide. He began holding the meetings Monday and expects to conclude them next week. The information gleaned from officials in 58 cities and counties will help guide Herring's office in responding to the needs of localities, he said...The attorney general told officials he would do what he could to get more funding and resources to localities. "Lack of funding seems to be a consistent need," Herring said. "I do not have a vote in the General Assembly anymore, but I can be an advocate for you."(By Aaron Richardson, Daily Progress)

Va. AG Herring Speaks with Charlottesville Leaders about Public Safety
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring stopped in Charlottesville on Wednesday to talk public safety with local leaders. Herring says he wants to hear from those on the front lines of law enforcement and criminal justice. He is looking to see how his office can help localities address the challenges they face. "We're literally criss-crossing the state, and it's really good to connect with the local officials," Herring said. "I think that's really where the rubber hits the road. They're on the front lines of law enforcement, keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe each and every day." The goal of this tour is to assess the programs and services the Virginia Attorney General's Office offers, and to see how they can be re-tooled to help a broader range of localities.(By Chris Stover, CBS19 Charlottesville)

Public Herring
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring made his first stop in Harrisonburg since taking office in January, chatting with Skyline's eighth-graders Tuesday morning to respond to letters he received from a group of them.  "It is an absolutely fantastic job," Herring said. "Every day I get to wake up and think about how can I help the good guys and how can I go after the bad guys"... Herring was "very impressed" with the questions posed to him and wanted to answer them in person, Ornstein said...Herring's visit came in the midst of a two-week, 22-stop public safety tour of Virginia in which the attorney general is meeting sheriffs, police chiefs and commonwealth's attorneys...However, Herring viewed the Skyline stop as a glimpse at what's problematic locally. Per questions from the letters, he briefly covered dating violence, synthetic drugs, bullying, cyber crimes and school safety. "These are of concern to adults and young people alike," Herring said in an interview after the event. After eight years as a state senator, he ran for attorney general because he "loves" the law and helping people. (By Preston Knight, Harrisonburg Daily News Record)

Loudoun law enforcement fighting spike in heroin abuse
Leesburg and Loudoun law enforcement are fighting an increase in heroin abuse among its citizens, officials on Friday told state Attorney General Mark Herring at a joint meeting in downtown Leesburg. Herring said after the meeting he's been following reports of the problem since taking office in January. There have been significant increases of overdoses and crimes relating to the drug not only in Northern Virginia, but Winchester, Culpeper, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, he said.  " ... It's one that we need to focus some additional attention on," Herring said. The state attorney general said he would investigate how outreach programs can help law enforcement, beating the problem off before it starts through education and rehabilitation.  "A heroin [addiction] is a long, long process and a 30-day program is not going to do it," Herring said. "... Once the problem starts spreading like this, it's not going to be something that we can just put out very quickly." (By Crystal Owens, Loudoun Times Mirror)

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring learns of Peninsula police challenges, and answers
Attorney General Mark Herring's been hearing about plenty of law enforcement challenges in a statewide swing this month - but when his tour brought him to the Peninsula, he also heard about an approach police are trying to one longstanding headache that stymies many departments. The headache: getting information, especially about juveniles...Herring said while he'd heard others across the state share many of the top concerns of Peninsula law enforcement officials - a spike in heroin and prescription drug abuse, the large numbers of jail inmates with mental illnesses, funding challenges - he was struck by local officials' concern about data and how to share it. He said he was also struck by their deep concern about computer crimes.(By Dave Ress, Daily Press)
  
Herring meets with public safety officials on stop in Lynchburg
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring met with local public safety officials Thursday for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on mental health reforms, property crime data and meth lab cleanups, among other issues. Herring, on a two-week statewide listening tour, sat down with representatives of Appomattox, Bedford and Lynchburg for about an hour Thursday afternoon. (By Alicia Petska, News Advance)

Attorney General holds public safety meeting
Attorney General Mark R. Herring met with local public safety and law enforcement officers and local elected officials Thursday morning in the conference room of Danville City Hall as part of a two week long statewide public safety tour. The tour included 22 regional meetings to learn about local public safety challenges and ways the Office of the Attorney General can help keep communities safe. "I want to hear directly from those who know best about the ways the Attorney General's office can work for the people of Virginia and best serve each community," said Herring. "This office is uniquely positioned to coordinate responses to emerging public safety threats, to advocate for the needs of law enforcement and prosecutors, and to help spread innovative and effective strategies and programs. I hope these conversations will provide valuable input on how best to focus our energies and allocate our offices' resources," he said. Local law enforcement and public safety officials shared their priorities and concerns Thursday at the meeting. (Chatham Star Tribune)
  

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