Virginia State Police welcomes new executive leadership
Virginia State Police Superintendent, Colonel Gary T. Settle, is proud to announce the appointments of three new executive staff leaders, in the wake of the retirement of the Department’s first female deputy superintendent. Effective Aug. 19, 2022, Colonel Settle appointed Lieutenant Colonel Kirk S. Marlowe Deputy Superintendent. Effective Aug. 30, 2022, Major Tricia W. Powers, Bureau of Administrative and Support Services (BASS) Deputy Director, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed to BASS Director. Effective Sept. 25, 2022, Captain Robert C. Holland was promoted to Major and appointed to the position of BASS Deputy Director.
Effective Oct. 1, 2022, Lieutenant Colonel Tracy S. Russillo concludes 33 years of service with the Virginia State Police. Russillo achieved many “firsts” in her advancement through the Department ranks. She was not only the first female Deputy Superintendent, but also the first female to serve as a Bureau Director and a Bureau Deputy Director. As Deputy Superintendent, Russillo oversaw all three VSP Bureaus – BASS, Bureau of Field Operations (BFO) and Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) – as well as the Office of Internal Affairs and Executive Protective Unit.
Russillo was appointed to the position of Deputy Superintendent Aug. 5, 2016. A native of Fredericksburg, she joined the Department May 16, 1989. Her first patrol assignments as a trooper were in Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties, which are within the Culpeper Division. As she progressed through the VSP ranks, Russillo served as an Academy sergeant in Richmond, area commander of the Culpeper Division’s Area 13 Office in Winchester and field lieutenant in the Culpeper Division. In 2008, she achieved the rank of captain serving as the Fairfax Division commander in the Northern Virginia region. Russillo was promoted to major in 2011 following her appointment as BASS Deputy Director, where she remained until her 2016 appointment to Deputy Superintendent.
Promoted to the position of Deputy Superintendent is Lieutenant Colonel Kirk S. Marlowe. Marlowe has served as BASS Director since Sept. 10, 2016. As the Director of BASS, Marlowe oversaw the Department’s Communications, Criminal Justice Information Services, Human Resources, Information Technology, Property and Finance, and Training divisions. BASS also includes the Office of Legal Affairs.
Prior to serving as the BASS Director, Marlowe served as the BASS Deputy Director upon his appointment to that position in Dec. 25, 2015, from division commander of the High Tech Crimes Division (HTCD) within BCI. He began his career with state police Aug. 1, 1988, and spent seven years in the Richmond Division as a trooper and special agent before he was promoted to Academy sergeant in 1996. Over the years with state police, he has supervised the Violent Crimes Unit and Staff Inspection Section as a first sergeant. In 2004, Marlowe was promoted to lieutenant of the Richmond BCI Field Office and later transferred to the Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Interdiction (CCI) Unit. He achieved the rank of captain in 2009 and oversaw the Support Services Division before being assigned to establish and supervise the new HTCD. Marlowe is a graduate of the University of Richmond with a bachelor’s degree in human resource management. He also graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security with a master’s degree in security studies and was a valedictorian of the Administrative Officer’s Graduate Course at the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville.
Prior to her appointment to BASS Director, Lieutenant Colonel Tricia W. Powers served as BASS Deputy Director since her appointment to that position Aug. 10, 2019. Powers graduated from the VSP Academy in 1994 with the 90th Basic Session. Her first patrol assignment as a new trooper was in the Culpeper Division’s Area 13 Office in Winchester. In 1997, she was promoted to special agent and advanced to the rank of first sergeant working in general investigations and drug enforcement in the Culpeper and Chesapeake BCI Field Offices. She returned to uniform as a first sergeant in 2010 as the commander of the Chesapeake Division’s Area 32 office in Norfolk/Virginia Beach. In 2012, Powers was promoted to lieutenant in the Richmond Division and transferred to the CJIS Division a year later. In 2016, she achieved the rank of captain and served as the CJIS Division Commander until her appointment to major in BASS. A native of Luray, Va., Powers is a 2012 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Bridgewater College and a master of criminal justice degree from Troy State University.
Promoted to the rank of major and to the position of BASS Deputy Director is Captain Robert C. Holland. Holland has served as the Training Officer at the VSP Academy since 2017. He graduated from the Academy in 2000 as a member of the 100th Basic Session. Holland’s first patrol assignment was in the Richmond Division’s Area 8 Office in Henrico County. He was promoted to sergeant in 2006 as a supervisor in the CJIS Division’s Sex Offender Investigative Unit. In 2010, he advanced to first sergeant within the CJIS Division and then transferred to BCI’s High Tech Crimes Division. In 2015, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and served the next seven years at the VSP Academy in that position and then as captain. Holland, a native of Powhatan County, is a graduate of Longwood College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a concentration in criminal justice.
Why groups are fighting over obscure 1960s-era ‘slot and perimeter’ rules at a Virginia airport
This spring has seen increased bickering in Northern Virginia over two little-known aviation regulations called the slot and perimeter rules, which govern operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington County. What exactly are they — and why are people fighting over them? Read on to figure out what you need to know.
What is the perimeter rule?
The perimeter rule limits the distance of nonstop flights to and from Reagan National to 1,250 miles — roughly the distance westward to Kansas and Nebraska and as far north as Quebec and Newfoundland.
Initially set at 650 miles in 1966 and then later increased, the perimeter was intended to help reduce congestion at Reagan National and encourage use of the much larger Dulles International Airport in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
The rule allowed Congress to pass exemptions to the perimeter, which it has done three times in 2000, 2003, and 2012. (Congress has a special interest in both Reagan National and Dulles because the federal government owns them, with operations managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, known as MWAA.)
Those exemptions have opened up Reagan to 40 daily flights — or 20 round trips — to and from Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Austin and San Juan. A November 2020 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found these flights increased passenger traffic at Reagan National and “likely reduced” some of the airport’s existing capacity.
What is the slot rule?
The slot rule also called the high-density rule, was created in 1969 to control congestion at five high-traffic airports, including Reagan National. It requires airlines to obtain a “slot,” or authorization, for every takeoff from and landing at the airport; Reagan is currently limited to a maximum of 67 slots per hour.
Slots are allocated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the GAO noted in its 2020 report that “airlines consider their slots and slot exemptions to be valuable assets.” In 2009, JetBlue co-founder Dave Barger pitched then-Gov. Tim Kaine on a proposal to let airlines “slide” more slots between different hours of the day, arguing it would give more low-cost airlines access to the airport. The Kaine administration directed Barger to discuss the idea with the MWAA.
Why do some people want to change the rules?
Debates over the slot and perimeter rules aren’t new. They typically occur every five years when Congress reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, which it’s slated to do by the end of September. But this year, the issue is getting more attention after U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia and Burgess Owens of Utah introduced legislation last month to add 28 additional flights to Reagan National both within and beyond its current perimeter.
“Five years ago, there wasn’t as much of an organized effort,” said Brian Walsh, a Fairfax resident who serves as the spokesperson for the Capital Access Alliance, a coalition of business organizations that most notably includes Delta Air Lines. Since then, he says, “more people are flying than ever before,” and the population in Northern Virginia and around Dulles has grown.
“Nothing has been changed in a number of years, and so with this year’s authorization bill, we see an opportunity to modernize what many of us see as an antiquated” system, he said.
The Capital Access Alliance has mounted an aggressive campaign to get Congress to authorize the additional flights, which it argues will allow up to 1 million more passengers to fly to and from locations outside the perimeter, drive down ticket prices and create over 1,000 new jobs. An analysis by the group concludes Reagan National is “under-utilizing its capacity compared to other major airports in the top ten U.S. metros,” and prior additions of beyond-perimeter flights there have “not negatively impacted the overall passenger growth at” Dulles.
“Dulles is fully equipped to survive on its own. There are hundreds of thousands of people who live around it today,” said Walsh. “This is about giving air travelers more choices.”
Why do others want to keep the current system in place?
Not everyone agrees. A counter-organization is known as the Coalition to Protect America’s Regional Airports has emerged to oppose the proposal, saying adding flights from Reagan National “would create unnecessary gridlock, threaten jobs and local businesses, risk connectivity for countless communities, and increase congestion, delays, and noise.”
The coalition, which includes the MWAA as well as United Airlines, several Virginia chambers of commerce and 17 Virginia airports, points in its defense to a May 25 memo from the Federal Aviation Administration that called the Capital Access Alliance report “flawed.” Instead, the FAA wrote, additional flights “would likely have a negative impact on operational performance and passenger experience,” and Reagan National “is more delay prone than most other airports.”
Furthermore, argued coalition director Scott York in a release on the group’s formation, “if the slot and perimeter rules are removed or changed, airlines will be incentivized to replace routes that promote and sustain nationwide connectivity with longer-haul, more profitable flights. These lost connections will have a significant impact on the local communities that rely on regional airports for economic development as well as safe and convenient travel.”
The MWAA contends that Reagan National is already operating at full capacity and has the busiest runway in the nation, with 819 daily takeoffs and landings on average.
“While [Reagan National] is very popular because of its proximity to Capitol Hill, it simply cannot accommodate all the flights that airlines want to send to Washington,” said MWAA President and CEO Jack Potter in a statement urging Congress to reject the increases.
The debate could continue at least through the summer. The current FAA authorization is set to expire at the end of September, but it’s not unusual for Congress to extend the deadline.
Walsh said the Capital Access Alliance is currently focused on “educating” the public and members of Congress about the newest slot and perimeter proposal. It will have to win over a number of key votes, including those of Virginia’s U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Kaine. This spring, the two joined with Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to convey their “strong opposition to any attempts at changing” the current slot and perimeter rules. Virginia’s six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives are also opposing the measure.
“With the expansion of Metro access to Dulles, long-distance flights from the Washington region have never been more accessible or competitive,” Warner and Kaine wrote in an April statement. “The slot and perimeter rules help to balance consistent world-class aviation services at the region’s three major airports, which has in turn allowed for billions of dollars in private-sector capital investment in the metropolitan Washington area.”
by Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: email@example.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Legal Standoff: AG Miyares and 18-state coalition challenge Biden Administration’s new immigration rule
In a bold stance against the Biden Administration’s recent approach to immigration, Attorney General Jason Miyares of Virginia has spearheaded an 18-state coalition in a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed ‘Circumvention of Lawful Pathways’ rule.
Labeled by the federal government as a vital tool in immigration regulation post-CDC’s Title 42 public health order expiration, critics, led by Miyares, argue that the rule’s actual impact is far from its purported goals. This order was instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic, granting authorities enhanced capabilities to bar immigrants from crossing the border.
At the heart of the dispute is the definition of “lawful pathways.” As per the new rule, activities previously deemed as illegal border crossings are now being classified as “lawful pathways,” an interpretation viewed by some as a tacit endorsement of illegal immigration.
Miyares minces no words in his criticism, stating that the Biden Administration’s plan does little to deter illegal immigration. “This… provides the Cartels with a makeshift manual on how to circumvent and exploit our immigration regulations,” he said. This argument comes amid rising concerns about the increasing chaos and tragedy taking place at the border, with human trafficking and the scourge of fentanyl smuggling into Virginia’s communities being spotlighted.
This contentious move has united a diverse group of states in opposition. Joining Virginia’s Attorney General in this suit are Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming.
Given the escalating tensions surrounding immigration policy in the US, this lawsuit represents a significant challenge to the Biden administration’s approach to immigration and border control. The issue will undoubtedly remain a contentious point of national debate and a potential pivot for future policy-making.
Cast Your Line: Enjoy fresh and saltwater fishing without a license
This weekend promises to be an excellent time for fishing aficionados and novices alike. Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources and Marine Resources Commission has announced free fishing days from June 2-4, 2023, enabling the public to fish without the need for a license.
Whether your passion lies in fresh or saltwater fishing, the first weekend of June offers the perfect opportunity to engage in recreational rod and reel fishing without the usual red tape.
Despite this freedom, it’s important to note that fees charged by fishing piers are not exempt during this period. Moreover, all fishing regulations, such as size, season, catch limits, and gear restrictions, remain firmly in place.
For details regarding saltwater limits and regulations, you can visit the Marine Resources Commission’s website. The 2023 Freshwater Fishing and Boating Regulations can be found on the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources website.
Junior Anglers are especially encouraged to check out the program tailored specifically for them.
The Free Fishing Days are authorized by the Code of Virginia, § 28.2-302.5. So, mark your calendars and make sure to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to experience all that Virginia’s waters have to offer!
Virginia State Police urges safety as summer travel begins amidst tragic loss during Memorial Day weekend
The 2023 Memorial Day weekend has unfortunately led to the loss of nine lives, which included four motorcyclists. The statistical count for this tragic weekend commenced on Friday, May 26, 2023, at 12:01 a.m. and concluded at midnight on Monday, May 29, 2023.
The Virginia State Police participated in the nationwide Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.) and the annual Click It or Ticket campaign. Throughout this period, Virginia Troopers registered 771 seat belt violations and 136 child restraint violations.
Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, expressed his concern with summer approaching and schools letting out. He emphasized the urgent need for responsible driving and adherence to safety protocols.
All available Virginia State Police patrolled the highways during the four-day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, aiming to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities due to impaired driving, speeding, and seat belt violations. The initiative resulted in 4,990 speeders and 1,924 reckless drivers being cited, with 89 impaired drivers being arrested. A total of 1,846 traffic crashes were investigated, and 634 commercial vehicles were inspected. The initiative also led to 169 felony arrests and assistance to 1,447 disabled motorists.
Fatal crashes were reported from the City of Richmond, and Henry, Loudoun, Orange, and Shenandoah counties. Loudoun and Henry counties reported two fatal crashes each, while two out of four fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in Loudoun County.
Comparatively, the 2022 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative reported 16 fatalities.
Funds generated from the summonses issued by Virginia State Police are directed towards court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which supports public school construction, technology funding, and teacher retirement.
Report on Virginia public education standards and policies overdue
Over a four-month period in 2022, Virginia leaders in education and workforce development held a series of meetings to provide recommendations to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration on improving state K-12 education.
However, a report on recommendations from those meetings, which were convened to fulfill the requirements of a 2022 law known as House Bill 938, remains six months overdue, with no explanation for its delay.
Asked about the report last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office did not provide an update on its status or why it hasn’t been released. A follow-up request in May went unanswered.
“The administration values the input from public school principals, school superintendents, school board members, and school teachers received both through the [House Bill] 938 workgroup and other feedback opportunities,” said Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter in an April email. “We continue to incorporate this feedback into the policies and actions needed to restore excellence to education and ensure our schools are serving every child. A detailed review of the policies and actions implemented over the last year and the Department’s policy recommendations will be outlined in the report.”
House Bill 938, which passed the General Assembly last year, required the Board of Education, Secretary of Education, and Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a group of stakeholders to evaluate various state policies and performance standards for public education.
Among the goals the group was tasked with evaluating were “promoting excellence in instruction and student achievement in mathematics,” expanding the availability of the Advanced Studies diploma, “increasing the transparency of performance measures,” and ensuring those measures “prioritize the attainment of grade-level proficiency and growth” in K-5 reading and math, and “ensuring a strong accreditation system that promotes meaningful accountability year-over-year.”
A report on the group’s findings and recommendations was due to the House and Senate education committees by Nov. 30, 2022.
During a Feb. 2, 2022 hearing, Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera called the legislation an opportunity for Virginia to develop a strategic plan to ensure public school students are prepared for life and the demands of the future.
“There are a lot of signs that we don’t have that, and that means taking a review of our standards, our curriculum, our assessments to make sure they are best in class and our proficiency levels are aligned with what the economy and democracy requires, and also our accountability system is aligned to make sure that we are holding systems accountable for serving every single child in Virginia,” Guidera said.
During the same hearing, Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, who carried the bill, said the legislation was “part of the governor’s ‘Day 1 Plan’ to empower parents” and a “mission statement as to where we want to take our education system.” She did not respond to interview requests.
Fifteen teachers, principals, parents, superintendents, school board members, and higher education and business experts were convened by the administration for the work group, which met at least four times before concluding its work in November, according to an October 19 report to the Board of Education. The group was also broken into four smaller groups that focused on “Mathematics Excellence and Achievement,” “Advanced Studies Diploma Options,” “Academic Growth and Assessment,” and “School Accreditation and Data Transparency.”
Each topic group met individually and was assisted by members of the Department of Education and the Region 5 Comprehensive Center, which provides assistance to states on education and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
According to a Nov. 3 draft provided to the Mercury, some of the work group’s recommendations included providing additional funding for elementary and middle school math specialists, revising state accreditation profiles to make them more accessible, and improving communication about how both learning growth and proficiency contribute to school performance scores.
Members who spoke with the Mercury said they were uncertain of whether there was any opposition to the recommendations after they were submitted.
“The timeframe for the HB 938 group was fairly limited, and so we could only accomplish so much,” said Kimberly Bridges, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and a member of the workgroup. “But I think there were folks at that table who were more than willing to keep working if the state had asked. But again, it just kind of ended, the report was drafted, and the folks on the working group did what they were there to do.”
A timely report
Members of the work group said the report is particularly timely given that the Board of Education is currently considering new accountability and accreditation systems.
In May 2022, the Youngkin administration released a report calling for “a new path” for Virginia education after student proficiency ratings and test scores on state and national assessments dropped following the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has blamed changes to school accreditation standards made by prior Democratic-controlled Boards of Education for the declines and, most recently, has proposed changes to how the state scores its schools.
At the same time, the administration has pushed for state education to focus more on workforce readiness, with Youngkin calling for every high school student in Virginia to graduate with “an industry-recognized credential.”
Courtney Baker, director of workforce and training for the Associated General Contractors of Virginia, who served on the Mathematics Excellence and Achievement topic group, said one of its recommendations was for Virginia to focus more on applied mathematics associated with careers such as architecture and engineering, instead of the “standard fast-paced, credit-driven approach.”
Additionally, the group recommended allowing students enrolled in career and technical education courses to qualify for Advanced Studies diplomas. Similar efforts to expand career and technical education in Virginia through legislation failed during the last General Assembly session.
[Read more: Bills to bolster career and technical education falter in General Assembly]
Baker said Virginia is “plagued” by a workforce shortage, pointing to estimates from construction industry groups that more than 250,000 craft professionals will be needed in Virginia by 2026.
“While we continue to hear how important the trades are to the health of Virginia’s economy, we do not see that reflected in current policy,” Baker said. “Students cannot pursue CTE training and qualify for prestigious advanced diplomas, CTE classrooms are in need of additional funding, and we have CTE instructors who are retiring and not being replaced.”
Proficiency vs. growth
Educators and lawmakers have debated for years how student success should be measured and whether assessments of school performance should focus more on student proficiency, as measured on state exams, or evidence of growth in test results.
Most Virginia schools remain fully accredited despite student testing declines
The Youngkin administration has argued for a greater emphasis on proficiency, saying that the inclusion of growth factors in school accreditation rankings has masked deficiencies in performance.
Officials were especially skeptical of the state’s most recent accreditation results, which showed only a few schools fell short of full accreditation despite student declines on standardized tests. Specifically, the number of fully accredited schools dropped from 92% in the 2019-20 school year to 89% for the 2022-23 year.
“This broken accountability system fails to provide a clear picture of the academic achievement and progress of our schools to parents, teachers, and local school divisions,” Youngkin said at the time. Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow similarly said the school ratings “fail to capture the extent of the crisis facing our schools and students.”
Both Balow and former Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, who chaired the House Education Committee, told the Washington Post that school accreditation rankings shouldn’t lump together proficiency and growth.
However, many education experts argue both factors are important in determining school success — a conclusion supported by the HB 938 work group, which in its Nov. 3 document stated that “focusing on both proficiency and growth provides an accurate depiction of how schools are performing.”
“The board should ensure that growth and proficiency continue to be included in one combined rate and increased parent-friendly communication surrounding its meaning would promote transparency,” the document says.
Members of the work group recommended the Board of Education “consider a weighted balance” of the two and conduct further investigation on the issue.
“We need accountability that looks at both student growth and students reaching proficiency. If you want to get a holistic picture of what’s happening with learning in schools,” Bridges said. “If you’re only looking at proficiency, particularly after coming out of this pandemic, and all of the impacts that it’s had on kids and their learning … then you’re only getting a piece of the larger picture.”
Members of the work group said they hope the report will be prepared and included as part of the board’s discussions.
Rodney Jordan, a former president of the Virginia School Boards Association who served on the work group, said Virginia has had a long history of educational excellence, but the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the challenges students face.
I don’t want to see the pandemic used as an excuse for allowing opportunity gaps, lack of support for teachers and ill-defined student outcome goals to persist; I want to see those things lessened, frankly deliberately eliminated,” Jordan said.
However, he continued, education leaders must “acknowledg[e] that where students start and where students end can vary from school to school and community to community, and we have to find ways of accelerating academic excellence for all of our children while also finding ways to continue to … raise the bar and ceiling simultaneously.”
by Nathaniel Cline, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Fentanyl crisis prompts Virginia’s deployment of National Guard to aid Texas
In a decisive move, Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia has issued Executive Directive Four, deploying targeted resources to respond to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request from the State of Texas. This action comes in light of the ongoing southern U.S. border crisis, characterized by increased drug trafficking and human trafficking.
The border crisis, which has turned every state into a border state, has caused significant instability along the U.S. border with Mexico. The supply of illegal drugs, including the highly lethal fentanyl, has sharply increased, resulting in devastating consequences for Virginia families and communities. Shockingly, an average of five Virginians die per day from fentanyl overdose.
Texas, recognizing the severity of the situation, requested assistance from all states and territories through the EMAC. Virginia, being a founding member of the compact, has responded to the call for help. As per Governor Abbott’s request, Virginia will be deploying 100 troops to support Texas in managing the border crisis.
“The ongoing border crisis facing our nation has turned every state into a border state,” Governor Youngkin emphasized. “As leadership solutions at the federal level fall short, states are answering the call to secure our southern border, reduce the flow of fentanyl, combat human trafficking, and address the humanitarian crisis.”
The decision to deploy troops is driven by the intensive resource demands on Texas, the dangers posed by the fentanyl crisis, and the impact of the border crisis on criminal activity in Virginia. Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, has become a severe threat to the Commonwealth, with an alarming increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses in recent years. Mexican cartels are also smuggling other narcotics, such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroin, across the border.
Texas has already invested substantial resources in border security operations, spending over $4.5 billion since 2021 and recently securing an additional $5.1 billion in funding. The state has deployed its own National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers to combat the crisis and adopt a “deter and repel” strategy. This approach involves erecting physical barriers and demonstrating a physical presence to impede border crossings and prevent the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people.
The recent termination of a public health order has further escalated the border crisis, requiring Texas to increase its resource commitment to address the issue effectively. In response, Texas made numerous requests for assistance through the EMAC, leading to Virginia’s decision to deploy the Virginia National Guard soldiers to support key aspects of Texas’ mission.
Under the executive directive, Virginia National Guard soldiers will be equipped with the necessary resources, including weapons, ammunition, body armor, protective masks, and night vision devices, to assist in their operations. The deployment will remain in effect until September 30, 2023, signaling Virginia’s commitment to assisting Texas during this critical period.
Governor Youngkin’s proactive response to the border crisis and the deployment of troops demonstrates the dedication of Virginia to tackle the supply of illegal drugs, combat human trafficking, and address the humanitarian crisis affecting communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. By joining other states in delivering additional assistance to Texas, Virginia aims to contribute significantly to the collective effort to secure the southern border and protect its citizens.
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