In past columns, I described the types of cases the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office prosecutes and my community outreach programs. This month, I am writing about how cooperation and collaboration between people, offices and departments benefit our citizens and all of society.
In 2006, an observant uniform police officer saw a man with a suspicious bundle at a vehicle. The officer turned around and drove to the vehicle. After he spoke with the man with the bundle, the officer discovered there was a young woman wrapped inside various materials. The young woman had died from an overdose of drugs. Instead of dialing 911, the man was going to take her body to an unknown location and leave her.
In 2006, there was no Virginia statute which made it illegal to conceal or transport with the intent to conceal a dead body. The investigating detective came to me and asked “can we do something”. I approached Delegate John Cosgrove and requested that he sponsor legislation to make this action criminal. The detective and I worked together on the language for the legislation. Delegate Cosgrove sponsored the legislation and the detective went with me to Richmond when I spoke before the House Courts of Justice Committee to explain why we needed the law and to answer questions. The legislation passed and on July 1, 2007, Section 18.2-323.02 of the Code of Virginia became law.
In 2010 and the first part of 2011, the citizens and merchants near Blakely’s were subjected to repeated criminal activity emanating from the club. Officers from the Chesapeake Police Department came to me in January of 2011. Jointly, we developed a plan and on April 11, 2011, a special grand jury returned a presentment against Blakely’s finding that it caused or created a public nuisance. The criminal activity immediately began to decrease. On May 10, 2012, I advised the Circuit Court that the nuisance had been completely abated, the lease had expired, there would be a new tenant and that the property would be re-zoned. Because the nuisance had been stopped, the presentment was dismissed on May 12, 2012 as there was nothing left to do. We were able to obtain this result because the citizens, the police and I worked together to solve the problem.
In 2013, my office worked with the Chesapeake Police Department to establish the Lethality Assessment Program. The purpose of the program is to encourage “at risk” or “high risk” domestic assault victims to utilize available services and to reduce the number of domestic assaults and domestic assault homicides in Chesapeake. The Lethality Assessment Program is fully activated and utilized.
Also, in the spring of 2013, I presented information about the Every 15 Minutes program to the School Board and to all of the high school principals. This program is a proactive step to educate high school students about making mature decisions when alcoholic beverages are involved. Every 15 Minutes is a two day program which encourages the students to think about personal safety and to recognize that their actions affect others and not just themselves. In cooperation with the Chesapeake Public Schools, Chesapeake Police Department, Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office, Chesapeake Fire Department, and Chesapeake Public Communications, my office will host the first Every 15 Minutes program in Chesapeake at Deep Creek High School in April 2014.
These are just four examples of the things that can be accomplished when people, offices, and departments work together to make changes, promote safety and reduce crime. It is important that we continue to collaborate on new ideas and even old ideas that have yet to come to fruition.
It is the beginning of a very busy season for many people, and I hope that everyone stays safe during this time.