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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


Contact: Emily Bolton
Office: (804)786-0147 
Cell: (804)839-9024 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



~ More than 55 localities and agencies participated in 11 regional meetings ~


RICHMOND (April 17, 2015)  --Attorney General Mark R. Herring concluded his second annual statewide public safety tour Tuesday with a regional meeting on the Eastern Shore with representatives from Northampton, Accomack, Exmore, and Chincoteague. The three-week tour featured roundtables held throughout the Commonwealth in Melfa, Warsaw, Emporia, Radford, Galax, Wise, Front Royal, York, Henrico, Chesterfield and Norfolk. Attorney General Herring traveled more than 2,018 miles to hold 11 regional meetings with representatives from more than 55 cities, counties, towns and agencies.


"Meeting with folks on the local level provides unparalleled insight into public safety challenges and successes because they are deeply embedded in their communities," said Attorney General Herring. "It takes courage to speak candidly about the tough issues, and from Wise to the Eastern Shore to Emporia, it was evident by our dialogue that officials across the Commonwealth care deeply about their communities. I am very grateful people shared their experiences with me and I look forward to using these insights as a guide to shape my legislative goals and help determine how the Office of the Attorney General can best assist localities."


Last year, Attorney General Herring's tour guided his public safety initiatives including a five point plan to combat the heroin and prescription drug crisis, hiring five regional community outreach coordinators to serve as a connection to every region of the Commonwealth and a statewide reentry coordinator . Attorney General Herring is meeting with his staff to brainstorm solutions for law enforcement challenges, and also looking for ways to help replicate successes.


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


Eastern Shore - Delmarva Now - Herring holds public safety meeting on Va. Shore


We're here to help. That was the main message Virginia Attorney General Mark H. Herring delivered during his regional public safety meeting Tuesday at the Chamber of Commerce building in Melfa. The attorney general spoke with law enforcement, public safety and elected officials from Accomack and Northampton counties to hear what public safety issues exist on Virginia's Eastern Shore..The attorney general explained Tuesday he wanted to conduct the tour to hear firsthand the safety challenges communities in the commonwealth encounter. "It really helped guide the legislative agenda this past General Assembly session," Herring said of last year's tour....A strong rapport is what Herring is hoping to build with public safety stakeholders on Virginia's Eastern Shore. "We're here to help you. We're here to be a resource for you," he said. [By Malissa Watterson, 04/14/2015]


Galax - Herring talks security, law enforcement issues in Galax


It's a staple complaint that any government above a local level "doesn't care about the little guy," but this isn't always true. Putting paid to the saying, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring came to the Galax City council chambers for a public safety roundtable involving the City of Galax and Carroll, Grayson, Patrick and Smyth Counties. Herring, who made such a tour last year in other areas, wanted to hear what local public officials in the region needed, and were concerned with, regarding their jobs taking care of their communities....Herring thanked everyone and explained that, due to his rise through local government to state levels, he still kept an eye out for local-level issues. "I think because of that local government bias I have, last year right after I rose to office, one of the first things I did was go on a safety tour to meet with local law enforcement from all around the state."... Benefits of the last tour, he said, included finding out that good reentry programs - to get released convicts back into society as productive members - save tax dollars, but local sheriffs who wanted to do re-entry programs didn't always know where to look for examples to follow. So, Herring hired re-entry coordinators for his office as a resource for local sheriffs to keep everyone informed about re-entry programs and resources....Herring said that different drugs are prevalent in different parts of Virginia, and that drugs are "not only a law enforcement but a public health issue. It's going to take a lot of different approaches."... "I think your being here speaks highly of you," added Director Clark. "There seems to be delegates who try to push funding for state police and sheriff's offices who don't cross over into our towns and our cities," said Barker. Chief Clark noted that smaller localities have the same issues as larger ones, but are perceived not to. A Tazewell official said that, with many programs, local government struggles to land its next grant. At the meeting's end, Chief Clark told Herring, "We appreciate your coming out. Don't make yourself a stranger." "Thank you very much for sharing what's going on in the communities," said Herring. "I think what you're doing out in the communities to keep everyone safe is great work. I know you're overworked and under-resourced, but anywhere you see that we can help you, let us know." [By Shannon Watkins, 04/10/2015]


Chesterfield - Village News - Attorney General reaches out to local law enforcement

For the second time since Attorney General Mark Herring took office in 2014, he scheduled a three-week tour focused on crime. Barnstorming over 22 regions, having meetings with more than 60 public safety agencies he said he is supporting local police and sheriffs efforts. The Attorney General wanted to hear about the challenges and successes that public safety officials were having across the Commonwealth. "How can our office help support what you're doing," Herring said. He said he wanted to hear first-hand from public safety officers and local prosecutors the challenges they are facing and how he might be able to redeploy some of his recourses in support of the work being done by local public safety organizations...."No region in the state was immune from it, and from that information we started looking at the data which supported what I had been hearing anecdotally. We began to develop a number of different strategies including prevention in our middle and high school prevention programs."....Law enforcement is one end of it, but according to Herring there is also a public health issue, which means prevention, treatment and education. It's much more expensive to deal with the problem after the fact than to help someone from getting themselves into the situation from the beginning....."Recidivism [repeat offenders] continues to be a big problem, and we found some sheriffs had a great reentry program, others wanted to do more but weren't quite sure which programs were successful in other localities," Herring said. "So we hired a prison reentry coordinator to help local and regional jails establish a successful reentry program." [By Mark Fausz, 03/25/2015]


Norfolk - ABC 13 - Broadcast report


Top cop Attorney General Mark Herring is hitting the streets to improve public safety. Herring kicked off a public safety tour this morning at the Berkley multipurpose center in Norfolk. The idea is to get feedback from those who live and work there. Herring says he'll take that information then use it to make communities safer. He walked through the Berkeley Neighborhood in Norfolk to hear from residents. Herring said, "One thing that was evident in every comment I heard and that was just how much people care for their community, for the people who live here, and they all want to work together." Though he has 11 more stops on this public safety tour Herring said his goal is to figure out the best way to focus resources to come up with solutions. [03/16/2015]


Norfolk - ABC 13 - Virginia AG launching 2nd annual public safety tour


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is driving the initiative known as the Public Safety Tour. Herring met with local officials Monday morning at the Berkley Multi-Purpose Center on Main St. to get input about public safety concerns. "One thing that was evident in every comment I heard is how much people care for the community and the people who live here, and they all want to work together," said Herring Mental health issues, race relations between police and the community, and increasing after-school activities are some of the suggestions that came from the round table discussion....Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith says these events are extremely important. "We have to continue to talk, continue to bring people together, and that's when we're going to start making headway," said Goldsmith. The attorney general did a similar tour last year. As a result Herring says his office went to work tackling the heroin and prescription drug crisis, hired a reentry coordinator to assist local sheriffs, and revamped infrastructure to ensure a direct line of communication with each locality. [Carl Leimer, 03/16/2015]


Wise - Coalfield Progress - Attorney general discusses public safety


Prescription drug abuse, mental health care concerns and crimes against the elderly were among the issues discussed at a public safety forum hosted this week in Wise by Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring. Herring spent an hour at the University of Virginia's College at Wise discussing regional public safety concerns. Invitees included law enforcement and public safety officials from Norton and Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan, Lee, Russell and Scott counties....Abbott also told Herring that elder fraud is another emerging crime. These cases require a lot of manpower, and Abbott said they are often difficult to investigate and prosecute. Herring agreed that elder fraud is a growing problem. As a state senator, Herring said he worked to pass a law that focused on combating financial elder abuse. The inspiration for the law came from hearing about cases that included one constituent's story about how a caregiver stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly father. The family sought assistance through adult protective services and the local commonwealth attorney office, but Herring said because there was no physical abuse, the family was told there was nothing that could be done. He also told Abbott he'd be interested to know if this financial abuse law will be helpful in prosecuting local elder fraud cases. [By Katie Dunn, 04/03/2015]


Radford - Southwest Times - Attorney general hears public safety concerns

Attorney General Mark Herring paid a visit to the Radford Police Department Thursday to meet with law enforcement agencies from all across the New River Valley. This was part of the annual Public Safety Tour Herring conducts as he travels around the state to different regions to hear about successes and concerns in order to gauge suggestions from both police officers and local public officials. This is the second year Herring has done this. He said last year's tour allowed him to see where improvements needed to be made, including areas such as prisoner re-entry, drug education program and stricter Internet enforcement. "When re-entry programs are successful, they help the community," Herring said, describing an example of one area from last year's tour that improved as a result of those meetings. Herring sat in a circle in the department's patrol room with officers from the Radford, Pulaski, Giles, and Wytheville police forces, as well as representatives from the Virginia Tech Police and Montgomery County Sheriff's Department. Radford Mayor Bruce Brown and Pulaski County Board of Supervisors chairman Joe Sheffey also attended. Throughout the meeting, Herring asked about various issues going on within the region, giving the agencies' representatives a chance to speak about the challenges they were facing, as well as suggestions for improvements. [By Calvin Pynn, 04/03/2014]


Front Royal - The Winchester Star - Herring addresses public safety issues

Virginia's highest legal practitioner met Monday morning with regional law enforcement and policy authorities to discuss mental health programs, drug courts, new laws meant to reduce illicit drug use and subsequent crime, and other public safety issues...He explained that this was his second public safety tour since being elected last year, and that the tour had helped him "retool [his] office" to better support localities. An example of an issue from his last tour, he said, was the re-entry of convicts into society after they have served time - which has historically been dealt with solely on the local level, if at all. He said his office had hired a re-entry coordinator to help localities interested in starting or expanding re-entry programs, and that jails can call for connections to service providers and information about what kinds of programs have been successful in the state...."If you run into any red tape on that let us know," Herring said. Warren County Sheriff Danny McEathron said that jails have, in some ways, become de facto mental institutions, because of a lack of resources available for mentally ill persons who have committed crimes... Herring agreed that jails should not operate as mental health wards by default, and that crimes committed by the mentally ill could be prevented. "All too often someone who is suffering from a mental illness ends up in the criminal justice system when what they need is treatment or hospitalization," Herring said. "The sooner we can get it the better." [By Onofrio Castiglia, 03/31/2015]


Front Royal - WHAG - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Makes Stop in Warren County on Public Safety Tour

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring made the fifth stop on his 11-stop public safety tour across the Commonwealth. Dozens of Virginia officials and members of law enforcement voiced their concerns to Herring in Warren County. "One of my concerns is the TDO's [temporary detention orders] of mental patients when we have to transport these patients to places like Williamsburg and Petersburg, Front Royal," said Front Royal Police Chief Norman Shiflett. "It puts additional duties on the police department, it takes manpower off the street.".... "Heroin and prescription drug abuse continue to be challenges for the region, but of course it is not just this region that is affected," Herring said. "No region of the state is immune from the problem, it has spiked in the last couple of years." Herring heard from more localities across the Commonwealth during his second annual statewide public safety tour. He says progress has been made since last year, but more still needs to be done. "We have stepped up prosecutions of dealers and traffickers. We are working on prevention efforts in middle and high schools," Herring said. As the attorney general moves southwest on his tour, he says he'll continue to be an advocate for local law enforcement, as heroin use and mental health issues continue to be at the forefront of most of his stops in Virginia. "I don't want to see another parent have to bury a child or another child lose a parent to these dangerous drugs," Herring said. [By Michella Drapac, 03/30/2015]


Front Royal - Rappahannock News - Herring told mental health, drugs top police concerns


As part of a continuing "public safety tour" around the state, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring heard from law enforcement officials in the region Monday in Front Royal that one of their biggest worries - in addition to still-rising heroin and methamphetamine abuse - is in dealing effectively with prisoners who require mental-health evaluations and treatment.... "If you run into too much red tape, let us know," Herring said of the CIT group's grant application process. Herring said: "One of the things I had heard [on last year's tour], loud and clear, was the amount of time that it took, whether for deputies or police officers, to hold someone waiting for an evaluation, or transporting them afterward. The goal for the regional assessment centers was to help free up some of that time and get the assessment done sooner, so no matter where you were in the state you were within a certain distance of one of those centers. "If you have to wait six or eight hours for one of those assessments, for a small department, that's too long." [By Roger Piantadosi, 04/02/2015]


Front Royal - Northern Virginia Daily - Herring hears from area law officers


Local law enforcement officials pressed Attorney General Mark Herring on Monday for help in evaluating and transporting prisoners showing signs of mental illness....Those at the meeting included law enforcement officials from Page, Warren and Shenandoah counties...."Unfortunately, all too often someone who is suffering from mental illness ends up in the criminal justice system when what they need is treatment and hospitalization, and the sooner we can get it, the better," Herring said....Herring said Carter's concerns reinforced the need for effective programs that ease former inmates re-entry into the outside world after their sentences are served. The goal, Herring said, is to reduce the likelihood that newly released inmates will commit more offenses requiring their return to jail. [By Joe Beck, 03/30/2015]


York - WV Daily - York, Poquoson Officials to Attorney General: We Need More Mental Health Resources


Representatives from the York County and City of Poquoson governments, as well as officials from the Virginia State Police, the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Department, the York-Poquoson Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and York County's Fire and Life Safety Department met with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Tuesday as part of Herring's second annual public safety tour.  "I wanted to hear directly from local law enforcement and local prosecutors [about] the public safety challenges that they were facing," said Herring, who is about a quarter of the way through his tour across the state...."It is so much better to prevent crime from happening in the first place than it is to deal with the consequences on the back end, and I commend you for getting out in the community," Herring said. "Crime doesn't recognize boundaries," Herring said. "[Criminals will] go wherever they see the opportunity." After last year's tour, Herring and his staff worked to tackle issues of heroin and prescription drugs that were emphasized by localities across the state....Herring said once the tour is completed, he and his staff will review their notes and see how the Attorney General's Office can help local law enforcement agencies with some of the challenges they face. [By Marie Albiges, 03/25/2015]


York - Daily Press - Virginia's attorney general hears from York and Poquoson


York County and Poquoson officials told Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring that the region could benefit from more mental health hospital beds and more mental health support in general. Herring is on his second annual public safety tour and said he is already hearing from several localities about mental health concerns. "While there have been some improvements from last year, we still have a ways to go," Herring said. ... "It seems like we address it in fits and starts," Herring said. "We made some progress after the Virginia Tech shooting and tragedy but then the cutbacks followed in the lean budget years. And then after the incident with Senator Deeds' son there was renewed interest. But mental health is an issue that isn't just going to go away and be solved."....Herring said the Virginia Attorney General's Office has offered some crisis intervention training and hired a re-entry coordinator that local law enforcement agencies can work with to reduce recidivism. The coordinator, Devon Simmons, said he aims to improve communication among government agencies. [By Johanna Somers, 03/24/2015]


Norfolk - Virginian-Pilot - Herring hosts roundtable at forum on mental illness


More services are needed for the mentally ill, who frequently get locked up instead of receiving appropriate help, state and local law enforcement officials said at a forum Monday. "It's more expensive to not address some of these problems and deal with them through the justice system," said Attorney General Mark Herring, who hosted the roundtable at the Berkley Multipurpose Center as a part of his public safety tour. "So many of those interactions that happen could be avoided if the treatment were available."... Legislation passed in 2014 to help provide more beds for people in need is a good start, he said. "We still need to work harder to make the services more available because the jails should not become our mental health system by default," Herring said. Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Underwood said the state has taken "baby steps in the right direction."... n June, police killed two mentally ill men armed with knives in their homes. Lawrence H. Faine, 72, was fatally shot in his Calvary Towers apartment on June 4, and David Latham, 35, was shot inside his home on West 30th Street two days later. Both men suffered from schizophrenia. After the shootings, Chief Mike Goldsmith and the city's Community Services Board announced they were working on a crisis intervention team. The project had started in 2012, the two said at the time. On Monday, Goldsmith said he also has been working to address "implicit bias" - the underlying assumptions that one individual has about another - in his department. "That can unconsciously enter into our decision-making without ever people realizing they are doing something they are not supposed to be doing," he said. Training is to begin in May. [Gary Harki, 03/17/15]


Northern Neck - Rappahannock Record - Attorney general meets with area law enforcement officials


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring discussed spice, mental health and computers at a meeting with area law enforcement officials April 8 at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw.... His office is trying to find ways to help law enforcement officials and prosecutors tackle their particular challenges.... After the meeting, Herring said he was impressed with the level of cooperation among local agencies and communities. "I'm going to take some of the challenges and concerns that I heard expressed, particularly in the mental health area and substance abuse area, back to Richmond," said Herring.[By Renss Greene, 04/16/2015]


Northern Neck - Westmoreland News - Attorney General Mark Herring gathers concerns from area sheriffs, police chiefs on public safety tour


Attorney General Mark Herring isn't in charge of any police forces or local prosecutors, but he and his office can still be helpful to them, which he sought to make clear in a meeting with such officials from the Northern Neck last Tuesday morning. The meeting at the Northern Neck Regional Jail was part of Herring's second annual "Public Safety Tour" and drew the sheriffs of Westmoreland, Richmond, Essex, King George and Northumberland counties, police chiefs from Tappahannock and Warsaw, the Commonwealth's Attorney of Essex and several members of boards of supervisors. During the meeting the local officials raised an array of issues. [By Colston Newton, 04/15/2015]


Emporia - Emporia Independent Record - AG Herring tour lands in Emporia


Extradition of inmates from North Carolina to Virginia and the explosion of illegal distribution of prescription drugs were among the main concerns presented by Greensville Emporia Commonwealth Attorney Patricia Watson and other law enforcement officials throughout the region to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring-D, Tuesday afternoon at the Municipal Building in Emporia.   Public safety officials from Emporia, Greensville, Southampton, Brunswick, Sussex, Mecklenburg and Lunenburg Counties were represented to voice their concerns to the attorney general.... The attorney general said he would see if his office could make some connections within North Carolina in an effort to make the extradition process from North Carolina a little easier for the Virginia commonwealth attorneys in the southern border counties.... Herring's visit to Emporia is part of a tour to localities throughout the state to find out what public safety concerns are impacting regions. The attorney general visited 22 communities in 2014. [By Mark Mathews, 04/15/2015]


Emporia - Sussex-Surrey Dispatch - AG visits with area sheriffs


On Tuesday, Attorney General Mark R. Herring held a regional public safety meeting at the Emporia Council's Chambers with local public safety, law enforcement, and elected officials from Sussex, Brunswick, Greensville, Mecklenburg counties and City of Emporia. From Sussex County, Public Safety Coordinator Eddie Vick and Millard D. Stith, Deputy County Administrator. Attorney General Herring began the meeting by recounting important strides made as a result of last year's public safety tour, including: three bills to address the heroin and prescription drug crisis; the hiring of community outreach coordinators to serve as a direct line from localities to the Office of the Attorney General; 148 percent increase in use of the Office of Attorney General's computer crimes lab by localities to help combat cyber crimes like child pornography; and hiring a statewide reentry coordinator to identify and address service gaps and facilitate coordination between law enforcement, government agencies, and others. [By Don Koralewski, 04/15/2015] 



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