Last week the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police issued a statement on the recent announcement by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) on a long-developing crisis in maintaining sufficient state facility accommodations for citizens in a mental health crisis requiring temporary or long-term commitment. That July 9 announcement by DBHDS was that 5 of 8 state institutions for the mentally ill were closing to “new admissions” until further notice due to overcrowding issues. Below is the full text of the Association of Police Chiefs Press Release on the matter. At the end is a LINK to the July 9 DBHDS statement on the facility closings:
On July 9, 2021, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) announced the closing TO NEW ADMISSIONS until further notice of five of the eight state institutions for the mentally ill, citing a lack of capacity to meet the growing need. There is literally no place for people to go who are in critical need of mental health services.
Law enforcement’s role is to transport people who are subject to emergency commitment orders (ECO) to hospital emergency rooms for medical clearance while the search begins for a psychiatric bed. If a bed is located in a private hospital first, or in a state institution as a “bed of last resort,” then a temporary detention order (TDO) is issued. The law enforcement officer then continues the transport to the mental health facility for detention and treatment. That’s if the system is working. With the lack of bed capacity and medical and mental health workers, there is simply no room at the inn.
Law enforcement does not have a viable choice: if an ECO/TDO is ordered and there is no psychiatric bed, the only option is street release. This is not a viable or responsible option for the treatment and care of an individual in mental health crisis. More than 25 years ago, Virginia made a verbal commitment to community-based mental health care to eliminate the use of state institutions. The verbal commitment has never been realized. The mental health system says it lacks capacity to meet the needs of the mentally ill. Law enforcement cannot answer this lack of capacity nor meet the expectations of the public when it comes to mental health care. Virginia is in a state of crisis, and no one is listening.
Mental health professionals have shared that it isn’t whether the person has insurance that determines whether a bed is found. The critical problem hospitals are facing is the growing number of violent persons in mental health crisis that the hospitals and mental health facilities can’t accommodate and that present a great risk for staff. We can empathize but law enforcement can’t solve this problem. The only other secure beds are those in jails, and Virginia has made a commitment not to jail the mentally ill. Being mentally ill in not a crime.
Policymakers and the public need to understand that law enforcement didn’t create this problem and we can’t solve it. In fact, the public doesn’t want law enforcement to solve it. Civil commitment should be the solution of LAST resort for people in need of help. Virginia needs and deserves a mental health system that treats people in crisis and keeps them out of the criminal justice system. Virginia law enforcement is there to help people in crisis, but we can’t do it alone. The mental health system is broken.
(From a Release by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police)
Governor signs 23 additional bills into law, bringing total to more than 800 bills signed from the 2022 General Assembly Session
RICHMOND, VA – On May 27, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin took final action on 30 pieces of legislation, signing 23 bills into law and vetoing seven additional bills. With the Biennium Budget still pending, Governor Youngkin has signed more than 800 bills to date and remains committed to ensuring Virginia is recognized as the best place to live, work, and raise a family.
“On April 27th, the General Assembly agreed to the vast majority of my recommendations, and today, I have taken final action on the remaining bills. While most of these bills were returned to me in an imperfect form, I firmly believe they offer a bipartisan path forward,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “However, select bills required essential changes. Therefore, I have vetoed seven additional bills that would not be in the best interest of the Commonwealth as my recommendations were not adopted. While the action from the bills passed during the 2022 regular session is now complete, I eagerly await the return of the General Assembly next week to send a budget to my desk that will offer significant tax relief for all Virginians while making historic investments in education, public safety, economic development, and behavioral health.”
Governor Youngkin Signed 23 Bills Including:
• SB 4, Senator Suetterlein, Emergency Services, and Disaster Law; limitation on the duration of executive orders
• SB 24, Senator Locke, Eviction Diversion Pilot Program; extends sunset date, report.
• SB 36, Senator Norment, School principals; incident reports, written threats against school personnel, etc.
• SB 46, Senator Petersen, Emergency and quarantine orders, certain additional procedural requirements.
• SB 163, Senator Peake, Surrogacy contracts; provisions requiring abortions or selective reductions unenforceable.
• SB 192, Senator Mason, Local health director; qualifications
• SB 199, Senator Mason, Rental agreement; the agreement may provide the occupant with an option to designate an alternative contact.
• SB 283, Senator Hanger, Removal of county courthouse; Augusta County; authorization by the electorate
• SB 345, Senator Barker, Driver’s license or identification card; an indication of blood type to be noted on license or card.
• SB 416, Senator DeSteph, Virginia Public Procurement Act; purchase of personal protective equipment
• SB 575, Senator Mason, DGS; state fleet managers to use the total cost of ownership calculations, report.
• SB 672, Senator Dunnavant, Pharmacists; initiation of treatment with and dispensing and administration of vaccines.
• HB 4, Delegate Wyatt, School principals; incident reports, written threats against school personnel, etc.
• HB 158, Delegate Byron, Emergency Services and Disaster Law; limitation on the duration of executive orders
• HB 385, Delegate Sullivan, Relief; Morman, Bobbie James, Jr.
• HB 517, Delegate Bulova, Chief Resilience Officer; clarifies designation and role
• HB 526, Delegate Batten, Victims of human trafficking; eligibility for in-state tuition.
• HB 717, Delegate Filler-Corn, Unaccompanied homeless youths; consent for housing services.
• HB 902, Delegate Avoli, Removal of county courthouse; Augusta County; authorization by the electorate
• HB 1063, Delegate Shin, Public accommodations, employment, and housing; prohibited discrimination on the basis of religion.
• HB 1136, Delegate Krizek, Updating Virginia Law to Reflect Federal Recognition of Virginia Tribes, Commission on; established.
• HB 1138, Delegate Reid, Loudoun County School Board; staggering of member terms, lot drawing, timeframe.
• HB 1323, Delegate Orrock, Pharmacists; initiation of treatment with and dispensing and administration of vaccines.
Governor Youngkin Vetoed Seven Bills Including:
• SB 182, Senator Saslaw, Charter; Falls Church, City of; amending charter, qualifications of members of boards and commissions.
• SB 474, Senator McClellan, Appeals bond; removes the requirement for indigent parties to post, the appeal of unlawful detainer.
• SB 508, Senator Lewis, Appeals bond; removes the requirement for indigent parties to post, an appeal of unlawful detainer.
• HB 339, Delegate Simon, Charter; Falls Church, City of; amending charter, qualifications of members of boards and commissions
• HB 384, Delegate Davis, State, and local employees; rights of employees, freedoms of conscience and expression.
• HB 614, Delegate Bourne, Appeals bond; removes the requirement for indigent parties to post, an appeal of unlawful detainer.
• HB 891, Delegate Lopez, Noncitizens of the United States; terminology.
Free summer early learning opportunity available for rising kindergarten students
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow is encouraging parents of children entering kindergarten this fall to take advantage of a free online summer learning program provided by Waterford.org, a Utah-based nonprofit specializing in early learning.
The program provides 20-25 minutes of daily age-appropriate reading, mathematics, and science instruction and includes all necessary software and technology — including home internet access, if needed — at no cost to participating families.
“I am so excited that the Virginia Department of Education is able to make this award-winning summer early learning program available this summer to rising kindergartners across the commonwealth,” Balow said. “The program helps young learners develop school-readiness skills as they participate in fun online activities that are tailored to their age and development.”
Balow encourages parents of rising kindergartners to register as soon as possible as online instruction begins June 6. Parents may register online or by phone at (888) 982-9898.
Waterford.org is making its Upstart Summer Learning Path program available to Virginia families at no cost through a partnership with the Overdeck Family Foundation.
In addition to technology and software, participating families will receive weekly support from a literacy and school readiness coach, with coaching services available in more than 20 languages.
Waterford.org will also provide software licenses to all children in participating homes, including early learners not participating directly but in need of instructional support in reading, math, and science.
As an added bonus, families of rising kindergartners who successfully complete the Upstart Summer Learning Program may keep their laptops.
Virginia conducts first interment for reservist after passage of the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act
RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) conducted an interment at the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk on Monday, April 25, 2022, for CMCN David A. Corona, who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1996 after serving for eight years.
“Virginia is proud to be the first state in the nation to offer former Guardsmen, Reservists, and their family members the opportunity for interment in places of honor in perpetuity alongside their brothers and sisters in arms,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Our former Guardsmen and Reservists stood ready to answer the call when they wore the cloth of our country, and now we can ensure they have a dignified final resting place when they answer that final call.”
This interment is different from the more than 2,500 burials of veterans and their eligible dependents each year at Virginia’s three state veterans cemeteries. It is the first interment since the signing of the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act into law on March 15, 2022. Prior to this bill, his family’s request for interment at a Virginia state veterans cemetery would have been denied.
The new law authorizes state veterans cemeteries to provide an honored final resting place to former Guardsmen and Reservists who may not have previously qualified for interment at a veterans cemetery because they did not meet the minimum active duty service time. With the interment of CMCN Corona on April 25, Virginia became the first state in the Nation to bury a former reserve component service member under the new eligibility standards.
Prior to the passage of the legislation, states that had received a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the establishment, expansion, or operation of a state veterans cemetery were only authorized to inter eligible veterans – those who had served 24 continuous months on active duty – and their dependents. Under the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act, any honorably-discharged Guardsmen or Reservist is eligible, even if they do not have the requisite active duty time.
Under its new Special Category Interment Program (SCIP), DVS will offer three interment options for former Guardsmen, Reservists, and eligible family members: in-ground casketed burial, in-ground cremated burial, and above-ground cremated burial (in a columbarium niche).
SCIP fees are $2,000 for casketed burials and $1,700 for cremated burials. These fees include the burial plot or columbarium niche, a headstone or niche cover, an outer burial receptacle for caskets, opening and closing of the grave, a place to conduct a committal service, and perpetual care.
“The National Guard is a community-based force, so providing the option for being laid to rest with honor closer to home is a fitting way to honor their service,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “We applaud Virginia for leading the way in turning this legislation into reality and thank the Virginia Department of Veterans Services for everything they do to support military personnel and their families across the Commonwealth.”
To learn more about the new DVS Special Category Interment Program (SCIP) for former Guardsmen, Reservists, and eligible family members, please contact DVS at 1-855-4VA-VETS (1-855-482-8387). Former Guardsmen and Reservists who were previously denied interment at a Virginian state veterans cemetery are encouraged to re-apply.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education, and other programs. The agency operates long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
“Kick-off to Summer” traffic expected to be heavy – motorists urged to be patient and drive distraction free
With Memorial Day weekend traffic on Virginia roadways expected to be close to 2019 numbers, being patient and alert are crucial for the safety of everyone on the road. Virginia State Police (VSP) is encouraging motorists to slow down, ditch distractions, buckle up and enjoy the holiday safely.
“Virginians need to make traffic safety a priority every day, and with a large number of travelers expected on the road this Memorial Day weekend, as traffic increases so should their vigilance and patience,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Memorial Day weekend is filled with celebrations, vacations, outdoor festivals and backyard cookouts, which is why we need all drivers to comply with posted speed limits, be patient and alert, buckle up, and never drive buzzed or drunk.”
Beginning Friday, May 27, 2022, VSP will join law enforcement around the country for Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. The 2022 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. on May 27 and continues through midnight Monday, May 30, 2022. All available state police troopers and supervisors will be on patrol through the holiday weekend to help keep traffic moving safely and responsibly.
This year, the Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative falls within the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This helps to further emphasize the lifesaving value of seat belts for every person in a vehicle.
During the 2021 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, 15 people lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia roadways. During the combined Memorial Day C.A.R.E. initiative and the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which ran from 12:01 a.m. May 24 through midnight May 31, Virginia troopers cited 5,553 speeders and 1,818 reckless drivers, and arrested 79 impaired drivers. In addition, 740 individuals were cited for seat belt violations and 281 felony arrests were made. Virginia State Police also assisted 2,302 disabled motorists.
With the increased patrols, VSP also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.
Click It or Ticket effort occurs before, during high-traffic holiday
In an effort to save lives through increased seat belt use, DMV joins with Virginia’s local law enforcement and state police to participate in the national Click It or Ticket campaign through June 5, 2022. The campaign is held annually in advance of and including the Memorial Day holiday, one of the busiest – and deadliest – travel weekends of the year.
Virginia’s seat belt use rate is 81.7%, according to the most recent statewide seat belt survey conducted in 2021, compared to the national average of 89.7%. Last year in Virginia, there were 5,583 crashes involving unrestrained people, 3,854 unrestrained injuries, and 334 deaths involving unrestrained people.
“These facts gravely highlight the need for increased awareness of seat belt use,” said Acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “DMV and our safety partners continue to publicize messages about the importance of seat belt use throughout the year, but especially during our annual Click It or Ticket campaign.”
Law enforcement will support DMV’s seat belt awareness messaging by conducting saturation patrols and high-visibility enforcement along busy roads and highways, and specifically along the Route 60 corridor, working to save lives.
“Time after time, we see the deadly results that come from drivers and passengers refusing to wear a seat belt,” said DMV Highway Safety Office Director John Saunders. “Buckling up is one of the most important steps in increasing survivability in a crash. Each one of those 334 people who died last year in unbelted crashes was someone’s mother, someone’s father, a sister, or someone’s best friend, and preventing those needless tragedies from continuing to occur is our top priority.”
Last year in the Commonwealth, approximately one of every two motor vehicle fatalities (48%) involved occupants who were not wearing safety restraints. The 21-to-35 age group accounted for 32% of the unrestrained fatalities, and the highest number of unrestrained fatalities (51%) occurred between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.
“These numbers tell us that half of our Commonwealth’s fatalities last year involved people not wearing seat belts and dying on our roadways,” said Capt. John Miller from Chesterfield County Police Department. “We want to do everything we can to reach unrestrained people and save their lives. Click It or Ticket works to change the behavior of those who are not buckled up, and to keep them from repeating this potentially deadly mistake.”
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the roads will be very busy this Memorial Day weekend. Despite record-setting gas prices, the auto club predicts nearly one million Virginians will be hitting the road for the holiday. That’s up nearly 5% from last year and represents more than 40,000 more travelers on the road for the holiday this year.
“Buckling up is among the most important things you can do to protect yourself and others in a vehicle,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean. “Modern cars are loaded with safety features that weren’t available just a few years ago. Those systems work in conjunction with a seat belt. That’s why it’s so important to buckle up, everyone, every time.”
Ahead of schedule, Port of Virginia moves forward on Net-Zero Carbon Goal with Clean Power Agreement
This week the Port of Virginia announced it is running ahead of schedule on its efforts to become a totally clean energy-driven operation on the way to leaving no carbon footprint on the environment within two decades. See the full report on this landmark endeavor below:
NORFOLK, VA — The Port of Virginia® will be fulfilling all of its operational electricity needs from clean-energy resources by 2024 and in doing so, moves forward with its goal of becoming completely carbon-neutral by 2040.
“We are taking this world-class operation and coupling it with a twenty-first century approach to sustainability,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). “This decision helps reduce our contribution to global climate change, protects our ocean and marine resources and makes us a better neighbor, six years ahead of schedule.
“Our commitment to becoming a completely carbon-neutral operation by 2040 aligns us with some of the world’s leading ocean carriers, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and multinational corporations. It is also a strategic business decision. Consumers worldwide are demanding clean – green — supply chains and our work will put us at the forefront of this change.”
The port is already sourcing some of its electricity for its on-terminal cargo operations from renewable sources and a power purchase agreement approved May 9 by the Virginia Port Authority Board of Commissioners expands access to clean energy. The agreement allows the Virginia Department of Energy to allocate an additional 10 percent of the energy from 345 megawatts of solar projects being completed by Dominion Energy along with the port’s proportionate share of the original contract.
This allocation, along with other solar, nuclear and wind resources provided by Dominion Energy will support the port’s current load of 130,000 megawatt-hours of electricity each year, on average, and allow the port to maintain 100 percent clean energy sourcing as its load grows.
“We look forward to providing carbon-free energy to The Port of Virginia and supporting its efforts to become the first carbon neutral port on the U.S. East Coast by 2040,” said Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy’s chair, president and CEO. “Virginia’s port is second to none and plays a vital role in the Commonwealth’s clean energy transition as a supply chain hub for offshore wind.”
As the port’s volumes increase, and it continues to transition from fossil fuels to new, cleaner technologies, the sources of available clean electricity will expand, meaning more clean energy, such as offshore wind and additional solar projects, will be fed into the grid and allocated to the port.
The port is already using electric equipment in its cargo operation and that trend will continue as part of the larger effort to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. The port’s original goal for sourcing all of its electricity from clean sources was 2032.
“We are ahead of schedule on a couple of fronts. Almost five years ago, we began to electrify our operation, audit carbon emissions, replace aging equipment with greener machines and make greater use of technology,” Edwards said. “As a result, more than one-third of the equipment we use on terminal today is electric and our use of technology is driving efficiency. This is a start that we’re proud of, but we know we can do better and this announcement is an important step forward.”
The port’s 2040 carbon neutral goal was debuted in April by Edwards at the 2022 State of the Port event. The strategy focuses on protecting local communities and the environment through fundamental changes in how the port operates. The approach is governed by a progressive environmental program that will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2040. The goal includes a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and operating with 100 percent renewable energy by 2032.
More about the port’s overall sustainability effort can be found in the 2022 Environmental Sustainability Report.
(The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create more than 437,000 jobs and generated $1 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.)