RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia State Police (VSP) Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program presented awards to three Virginia police departments and nine police officers to recognize their efforts in reducing vehicle theft and theft of vehicle parts in the commonwealth. The awards ceremony took place on August 26 during the annual conference of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation held in Norfolk.
The Henrico County Police Division was the winner in the agency category serving more than 100,000 citizens. The Roanoke City Police Department took the top prize in the agency category serving serving a population from 20,001 to 100,000, while the Salem Police Department was recognized in the same category as an agency finalist.
Officer Melissa Foster with the Roanoke City Police Department and Officer Shane Richardson with the Henrico County Police Division took the top honors in the individual category. Detective Mark Adkins with the Salem Police Department and Detective Christopher Gordon with the Henrico County Police Division were named individual awards finalists.
Certificates of merit were presented to Officers Aubrey Hughes, William Jenkins Jr. and Shawn Maxwell Jr. with the Henrico County Police Division. Also receiving certificates of merit were Detective Thomas Nash, Roanoke City Police Department and Officer Thomas Newman, Salem Police Department.
“We are grateful to law enforcement agencies and officers from throughout Virginia who join with the Virginia State Police in fighting vehicle theft,” said First Sgt. Thomas Molnar, HEAT Program Coordinator. “These annual awards are an opportunity to recognize outstanding efforts.”
The HEAT Awards program is an annual competition open to all Virginia law enforcement entities and employees who work in auto theft enforcement and prevention. Nominees must demonstrate excellence in at least two of the following four categories: enforcement, intelligence gathering, prevention and recovery.
“Virginia citizens also have an important role to play in preventing auto theft,” said First Sgt. Molnar. “By following a few common-sense tips, they can protect their vehicles.” The HEAT program recommends the following:
• Take your keys and lock your doors every time you leave your vehicle.
• Never leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle. Place them in the trunk or somewhere out of sight.
• Be aware of your surroundings when out and about.
• Park in well-lit areas.
• Invest in an audible or visible deterrent.
• Install GPS or other tracking devices.
Learn more about the HEAT program at HEATreward.com.
The Virginia State Police Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program was established in 1992 to educate citizens and law enforcement about the theft of vehicles and vehicle parts. For more information, visit HEATreward.com. Visit Virginia State Police online at www.vsp.virginia.gov.
Bill advances to remove statue of segregationist
A Virginia House of Delegates committee voted Friday to advance a bill to remove the statue of former state Gov. Harry F. Byrd Sr. from Capitol Square.
House Bill 2208, introduced by Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, instructs the Department of General Services to place the statue in storage until its final location is chosen by the General Assembly.
“This statue serves only as a reminder to the overt and institutional racism that has and continues to plague our commonwealth,” Jones said.
The bill’s supporters included Rita Davis, counsel to Gov. Ralph Northam, who described Byrd’s work as preventing African Americans from voting, being seen or being heard.
“Had Mr. Byrd had his way, I would never have the opportunity to be before you, because I’m Black,” Davis said during the committee hearing. “The question is not whether we should remove Mr. Byrd’s statue from Capitol Square, but rather ‘Why on earth would we keep it at Capitol Square?’”
Speaker of the House Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield, indicated during the hearing that the League of Women Voters also supported the bill.
The five Republicans serving on the committee voted against the measure.
Byrd, a Democrat, served as Virginia’s governor from 1926 to 1930 and as a U.S. senator from 1933 to 1965. He strongly opposed desegregation of public schools and led a “massive resistance” campaign in the South against the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, according to documents from Old Dominion University’s Desegregation of Virginia Education collection. His statue was erected in Richmond’s Capitol Square in 1976 after his death in 1966.
Debate around the statue’s removal began last session, when Del. Wendell Walker, R-Lynchburg, introduced a bill to remove it, though the bill was ultimately stricken from the docket. The General Assembly passed legislation last year allowing local governments to remove Confederate monuments. The removal of statues in Richmond was accelerated following protests after George Floyd died in the custody of a Minneappolis police officer who has since been charged with second-degree murder.
The Department of General Services estimates the removal to cost approximately $250,000, according to the bill’s impact statement. Storage costs are estimated at $7,000 per year until the final home of the statue is determined.
The Rules Committee passed the measure on a 13-5 vote. The bill now heads to the House floor for consideration.
By Zachary Klosko
Capital News Service
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.
44 new troopers graduate Virginia State Police Academy
The 44 men and women of the Virginia State Police 132nd Basic Session graduated in a virtual ceremony on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Due to COVID-19 protocols, a virtual ceremony was the safest means of allowing the graduates and their families to celebrate the culmination of 27 weeks of the trooper-trainees’ hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Also in virtual attendance were state police executive staff, academy staff, and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. A previously-recorded video of Governor Ralph Northam congratulating the new troopers was played during the ceremony.
“This Basic Session class has been like no other. Every one of these steadfast men and women heeded strict attention to detail as they navigated the ever-evolving COVID-19 safety protocols,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The attention to detail wasn’t just to ensure a safe environment for the entire class, their families, academy staff, and instructors, but also for the greater good, something all Virginia State Troopers understand as they put their lives to the test daily to protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. I could not be more proud of this graduating class and I know they will represent us well as they serve their communities.”
The new troopers received more than 1,300 hours of classroom and field instruction in more than 100 different subjects, including de-escalation techniques, strategies to assist people in a mental health crisis, ethics and leadership, fair and impartial policing, constitutional law, emergency medical trauma care, and public and community relations. The members of the 132nd Basic Session began their 27 weeks of academic, physical, and practical training at the Academy on June 29, 2020.
The graduates of the 132nd Basic Session are from every corner of the Commonwealth, as well as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York. They include two second-generation troopers, four first-generation Americans, and numerous prior military service personnel.
For their final phase of training, each trooper will spend an additional six weeks paired with a Field Training Officer learning his or her new patrol area.
132nd Basic Graduate Assignment
Arfan M. Arif – Fairfax County
Michael L. Albert – Shenandoah County
Zachary T. Barnes – York County
Moses I. R. Blakey – New Kent County
Vontasia T. Britton – York County
Andrew J. Brown – Prince William County
Taylor C. Brown – Prince William County
Jawaan D. Cook – Greensville County
William T. DiBerardine – Warren County
Hunter C. Dickenson – Gloucester County
Julian B. Edwards – Prince William County
Kayla B. Edwards – Surry County
Christian L. Elkins – Prince William County
Arthur P. Falin – Greensville County
Jacob A. Farmer – Prince George County
Adelaide E. Fischer – Hampton / Newport News
Robert L. Flynn – Accomack County
Tony Fuentes – James City County
Austin K. Gallaway – Hampton / Newport News
Zachary M. Homlish – Caroline County
Hunter C. Jensen – New Kent County
Stephanie H. Kapusta – Fairfax County
Sarah A. M. Kendrick – Prince William County
Aaryn J. Kerry – Cumberland County
Steven R. King – Accomack County
Timothy L. LaFountain – Buckingham County
Joshua O. McClure – Frederick County
Alexander W. Meyers – King George County
Thomas J. Mills – York County
Justin R. Mull – Caroline County
Connor R. O’Quinn – Hampton / Newport News
Earl J. Pritchett – Prince George County
Andrew R. S. Sanders – Sussex County
Gabriel A. Santillan – Fairfax County
Austin M. Sloan – King William County
Jeffrey A. Spencer – Fairfax County
Sean M. Stinnett – Clark County
Seth A. Sullivan – Accomack County
Andrew M. Toth – Fairfax County
Joseph J. Trombley – Shenandoah County
Richard C. Warner – Gloucester County
Jacob K. Weitzman – Fairfax County
Isaac D. Wilson – York County
Joseph T. Worley – Greensville County
State police are currently hiring for future Basic Session Academy classes. Those interested in joining the ranks of the Virginia State Police are encouraged to visit www.vatrooper.com for more information.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – January 14, 2021
Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.
- vaccine distribution to 160 sites
- receiving 110,000 vaccine doses per week
- the goal is to distribute 25,000 does per day
- your turn will come, be patient
- important to reopen our schools
- possibility of year-round school
- addressed threats of violence leading up to next week’s inauguration
Briefing begins about 8 minutes into the broadcast.
IRS Criminal Investigation warns Virginia taxpayers about new wave of COVID-19 scams
The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) is warning Virginia taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency delivers the second round of Economic Impact Payments.
In the last several months, IRS-CI has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal information from taxpayers. Criminals are taking advantage of the second round of Economic Impact Payments – as well as the approaching filing season – to trick honest taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.
“IRS-CI wants to make sure all Virginians are aware of potential scams, in hopes of preventing them from being victimized,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson. “Please stay vigilant of potential scammers looking to steal your identity and your money.”
Some common COVID-19 scams include:
- Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
- Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
- The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
- Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
IRS-CI continues investigating hundreds of COVID-19-related cases with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad and educating taxpayers about scams.
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies.
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, should forward the message to email@example.com. Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.
Governor Northam delivers State of the Commonwealth Address
DMV closed for 2021 State Holidays and Observances
All Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) full-service customer service centers will be closed on the following days for state holidays and observances:
• January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
• February 15: George Washington Day
• May 31: Memorial Day
• June 18: Juneteenth
• July 5: Independence Day
• September 6: Labor Day
• October 11: Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day
• November 2: Election Day
• November 11: Veterans Day
The holiday schedule for Thanksgiving and Christmas will be announced at a later date.
DMV customers are encouraged to save time by taking advantage of more than 40 transactions available online at dmvNOW.com. Appointments are required for in-person transactions.
Also, some DMV Select locations, run mostly by local governments, may operate outside the state holiday closing schedule. DMV Select offices process mostly vehicle-related transactions including registration renewals, titles, and license plates; driver’s licenses and ID card services are not available. To find out if a DMV Select in your area is open on a state holiday and whether an appointment is required, visit dmvNOW.com/DMVSelect.