Governor Youngkin Announces Bold New Public Safety Plan

Earlier this week in a meeting with Virginia law enforcement officials, Governor Glenn Youngkin (Rep) announced his new public safety plan, calling it “Operation Blue Bold Line.” The Governor, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and numerous local leaders gathered in Norfolk to discuss policy related to crime. Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew, Vice Mayor Saundra Cherry, City Manager Cynthia Rohlf, and other NNPD officials were in attendance at this meeting. 


The Governor spoke to the media, saying, “Across Virginia, people wake up and turn on the morning news to hear story after story of violence in their communities: homicides, shootings, and aggravated assaults. With a nearly 40% law enforcement vacancy rate in some cities in Virginia, with too few prosecutors actually prosecuting, and with diminished community engagement and witnesses less willing to come forward, Virginia’s blue line is getting far too thin” (Richmond Times-Dispatch-Times).


What is Operation Blue Bold Line? Governor Youngkin outlined various pillars of the plan and how it will address crime in Virginia.They include a $75 million dollar disbursement for equipment and training for state and local police, fixing wage compression, the creation of a Badge to Degree program, increasing the number of police in areas with police vacancy, providing resources to victims, and ensuring law enforcement has a good relationship with prosecutors. 


The initiative was praised by numerous law enforcement and politicians. Multiple mayors, including Richmond’s Levar Stoney and Norfolk’s Kenny Alexander expressed optimism. The move was still met with some skepticism. State Senator Jennifer McClellan (Dem-Richmond) and Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney Ramin Fatehi expressed skepticism of how the Governor and Attorney General intend to supposedly strengthen the ties between prosecutors and law enforcement. Employees of Legacy Lounge, a restaurant that was forcibly shut down by Norfolk City Council in September due to violence in downtown Norfolk, sent an open letter saying the Governor should have addressed the controversy and included business leaders in his plans. 


The crime rate in Virginia is one of the lowest in the country, but this year there has been a sharp uptick in violent crime, especially homicide. The state recorded 6.59 murders per capita in 2021, a 3% increase from ten years ago. Norfolk was recently named 8th in most homicides in America according to WalletHub, with Virginia Beach and Chesapeake also being in the top 50. Whether Governor Youngkin is able to implement these changes and if these changes will work remains to be seen. Regardless, the Newport News Police Department said on their official Instagram, @newportnewspd, that they “will be closely involved in the development and implementation of these programs and initiatives.”