The nation’s eyes are focused on Virginia as Democrat career politician Terry McAuliffe contends with successful Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin for Governor on November 2nd. Most polls have the race dead even. Turnout will be decisive. The issues are tangible, including battles over the role of parents in schools, mask mandates, and critical race theory. However, there’s another vital issue that sharply contrasts these two candidates: Public Safety.
Americans across the nation have been shocked and dismayed by the crime wave that has swept over us as far-left so-called “progressive policies” make our country progressively more dangerous for law-abiding citizens. Virginians also have felt the crime explosion, one that’s in no small part due to Democrats who control the office of the Governor, the Attorney General, and the legislature. Under Democrat leadership, Virginia has abandoned crime victims, law-abiding citizens, and law enforcement agencies with disastrous results. Their failure to enforce commonsense laws and policies has handed control of our streets to violent criminals. And Virginia’s murder rate rose to a 20-year high in 2020. That’s unacceptable.
Mr. McAuliffe began this slide toward criminalizing Virginia by releasing thousands of dangerous criminals among us from Virginia’s jails, even restoring their right to vote before any of them paid full restitution for their crimes! For example, when David Simpkins—a violent sex offender with 56 felony convictions—was released, he renewed his malevolent crime spree across multiple counties in Virginia. Moreover, Mr. McAuliffe was irrationally resistant to hiring retired police officers to perform vital security functions in our schools to protect our children. Amazingly, he vetoed the first bill but then finally relented a year later when the legislation even drew support from rank-and-file Democrats.
Worse yet, Mr. McAuliffe has cuddled up to those who would defund the police—accepting their political endorsements—making it more difficult for law enforcement to protect Virginians. This has had a very negative impact on the retention and recruitment of law enforcement officers. Virginia’s deputy sheriff turnover rate is now 27 percent, while the Virginia State Police (VSP) officer shortfall hovers at 30 percent. Moreover, there has been a 60 percent decrease in VSP applications since 2017. Law enforcement officers are voting with their feet. They don’t trust Terry McAuliffe. Nor should we entrust him with our safety or that of our children.
The good news is that Virginians have an attractive choice in Mr. Youngkin. His vision is clear, and he believes that no Virginians should have to worry about being safe in their home, feel unprotected in their community, or fear sending their child to school. A Youngkin Administration has demonstrated that it will prioritize the safety of every Virginian by investing in our law enforcement, protecting our neighborhoods, and addressing the mental health crisis. Moreover, he has an effective plan.
On his first day in office, Governor Youngkin will fire the entire parole board who prioritized releasing hardened, violent criminals over the victims and families they besieged and even murdered. And he will resist efforts to end parole, keeping violent and dangerous criminals safely locked up.
A Youngkin administration will work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to end violent crime in some of Virginia’s most vulnerable urban communities, which have been racked by violence. He will restore peace and order so parents can work, children can go to school, and communities can build mutual bridges of respect.
Additionally, he wants our children’s first encounter with law enforcement—particularly school resource officers—to be a positive and non-enforcement-related experience that builds trust and confidence in keeping children safe. In that regard, Mr. Youngkin has spent the last few months building respect and relationships with our law enforcement, who support him in droves. The Fraternal Order of Police, Police Benevolent Association, and 50 sheriffs have all voiced their support and given their endorsement.
While little focus has been placed on the topic in this campaign, Mr. Youngkin is also committed to functionally ending human trafficking in the Commonwealth. He will combat this evil by enforcing anti-human trafficking laws and empowering victims and survivors while educating the public on the reality of this despicable practice in Virginia.
There is much on the line in this election. Virginians want and need strong leaders who will remember that the first obligation of government is to respect the Constitution, sustain the rule of law, and protect our citizens and their rights. Mr. Youngkin has given every indication that he is the kind of leader who will do just that. His public safety priorities and approach will put law-abiding Virginians first, particularly the most vulnerable in our society, especially our children.
Mr.Youngkin’s top priority will be to protect Virginians, not mollycoddle criminals as Democrats have done over the past eight years.
• The Honorable L. Scott Lingamfelter is a retired Army Colonel and combat veteran who chaired the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is the author of Desert Redleg: Artillery Warfare in the First Gulf War (University Press of Kentucky).
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