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■ WE NEED A PROGRESSIVE PLAN FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
Despite what local media outlets have called a wave of violence driving increases in shootings and homicides in our City, Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office (RVA CWA) continues to prosecute cases as if they involve only paperwork and not people.
In one case, I watched as a potentially deadly situation involving allegations of multiple shootings in an on-going clash between community members found its way into Richmond’s General District Court, only to see the case shuffled between three different prosecutors and ultimately dismissed.
In another case, I watched as the RVA CWA’s Office put on a young witness who refused to testify and whose mother cried out in court that his life had been threatened and that he was terrified – she said that she wasn’t trying to bury any more of her children – and this case was also dismissed.
In yet another case, I watched as the RVA CWA’s Office failed to secure the involvement and appearance of a material witness who was involved in gun violence in the City – resulting in the dismissal of the case and the expectation that the conflict would continue in the streets.
The advocacy by the RVA CWA’s Office in these cases treated them exactly like that – as paperwork, rather than as complex situations involving people that require innovative, community interventions to resolve. Unfortunately, this kind of disconnect is typical of the organizational approach implemented by this RVA CWA’s Office every day in Richmond’s courtrooms.
Our prosecutors are not just attorneys, they are public safety leaders and managers. When the RVA CWA’s Office does not take ownership of these conflicts in partnership with community and police – when there are no calls in cases for community to organize and intervene in situations to get at the root cause of why they’re happening – and when there is no strategy or supervision implemented to stop such violence from continuing – we must ask:
What is this RVA CWA’s Office’s plan for public safety?
I’m running with the progressive plan for public safety we need.