by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury
The office of Attorney General Jason Miyares plans to hire six prosecutors and group violence intervention coordinators with the $2.6 million in grant funding it received to try to reduce gun crime.
Another $5 million will go toward the extension of a hospital-based violence intervention program meant to help people escape life circumstances that led to them being shot or stabbed.
Virginia State Police plans to spend $256,044 to hire a new analyst at the crime-fighting Virginia Fusion Center who will use geographic data to help authorities and spot and address trends in violent activity.
And more than a dozen local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and community groups will receive grant funding for a variety of initiatives to stem gun violence in their areas, projects that range from hiring more prosecutors to funding outreach programs for at-risk youth.
A report issued this week by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services lays out how various state and local entities plan to spend roughly $10 million in anti-gun violence funding recently approved by the General Assembly. The new report also includes status updates on $500,000 grants previously issued to the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Richmond and Roanoke.
The more recent state funding was awarded through the 2023 Operation Ceasefire Grant Program, which runs from the start of this year through the end of 2024. Ceasefire programs are modeled after an anti-violence model Boston officials implemented in the 1990s that focuses on trying to steer people away from gangs and other activities that make them more likely to be shot or shoot someone, while cracking down on those who disregard those efforts and go on to commit violence with a firearm.
Prince William County told the state it intends to use the $353,974 it received to hire a full-time “gun violence interventionist” responsible for implementing the county’s “community-based intervention and prevention initiatives.”
The city of Suffolk said it intends to hire a new prosecutor and “identify high risk individuals to participate in call-ins, which will provide directed cease and desist messaging.”
Prosecutors in Prince George County and neighboring Hopewell plan to use $249,996 to create a “regional prosecutor initiative,” with a new attorney working in both jurisdictions to “prosecute offenders involved in firearms offenses and gun violence.”
In Southwest Virginia’s Lee County, officials will receive $81,766 for an additional prosecutor focused on guns, violent crime and “methamphetamine trafficking.”
A handful of nonprofit groups also received state funds for a variety of intervention programs meant to prevent violence before it occurs through mentoring programs, skills training and mental health support.
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