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Gov. Youngkin discusses new violent crime task force, Democratic criticism

Roanoke-Lynchburg WDBJ-TV logo Roanoke-Lynchburg WDBJ-TV 5/17/2022 Joe Dashiell
Roanoke Police at fatal crime scene. © Provided by Roanoke-Lynchburg WDBJ-TV Roanoke Police at fatal crime scene.

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Glenn Youngkin says a new Violent Crime Task Force will take a comprehensive look at the problem and the potential solutions. Virginia Democrats say he’s ignoring the number one cause.

Youngkin announced the task force Monday, saying there is “a clear recognition of a violent crime crisis in Virginia.”

In a conversation with WDBJ7 Tuesday afternoon, he said it is an effort to bring federal, state and local resources together to - in his words - “surge in with what’s needed.”

“What we are finding is that local resources are finding themselves overrun by the challenge, so we’re trying to find a way to work together to supplement those,” Youngkin said. “Second of all there have been tried and true programs that have been put in place over the course of the last ten years in Virginia that in fact we might be able to use again. And that is particularly how we’re treating crimes that are committed with guns.”

It was the issue of guns that brought a response from Virginia Democrats.

They argued guns are the number one driver of rising violent crime, and the Governor, they said, has done nothing to get guns off the streets.

“Democrats, on the other hand, have fought hard to protect crucial gun safety measures in place and ensure people who commit violent crimes cannot access firearms,” Democratic Party Press Secretary Gianni Snidle said in a written statement. “We cannot reduce violent crime without getting dangerous guns off our streets and Governor Youngkin’s action is nothing but a political half-measure.”

“I refuse to participate in this political sparring,” Youngkin responded. “Criminals are the challenge. We must enforce our laws. We must put people in jail and prosecute them. And then keep them there if they are a violent criminal, and not let them go.”

Youngkin said initially he’s focused on actions the Governor’s Office or state agencies can take on their own without General Assembly approval. One example, he said, is revisions to policy in our juvenile justice system.

The political divide on this issue will complicate any legislative solutions, but Youngkin said he will also pursue changes that would require “a collective effort” between Democrats and Republicans.

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