Grants to aid public safety

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 19, 2007

RICHMOND—Grants have been announced for the victim/witness programs in Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, as well as for a school resource officer in the Isle of Wight public school system.

The grants come from Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services, which provides technical and support services for the criminal justice system to improve and promote public safety throughout the state.

They were part of $39 million in state, federal and local funds that were awarded to support criminal justice programs throughout the commonwealth.

&uot;These grants will enable localities and state agencies to support new and continuing programs that address a wide range of criminal justice and public safety needs in the Commonwealth,&uot; Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said.

&uot;They demonstrate again the commitment of Virginia’s state and local agencies to make sure our criminal justice system is as effective and responsive as it can be.

Altogether, 256 non-profit agencies and localities, as well as eight state agencies, received funding for campaigns including sexual assault programs, criminal justice system improvements, victim/witness programs, school resource officers, offender reentry transitional services, residential substance abuse programs and comprehensive community corrections programs.

Locally, Southampton will receive $52,202, and Isle of Wight will get $47,345, in state funds for their victim/witness programs. The Department of Criminal Justice Services will also distribute $25,493 in state money for Isle of Wight’s school resource officer, while the county will chip in an additional $15,317 to fund that position.

The victim/witness grant program was created by the General Assembly in 1984 and is funded through special state appropriations, along with money authorized through the federal Victims of Crime Act of 1984.

With the help of the Victims’ Services unit at the Department of Criminal Justice Services, local victim/witness programs provide support, resources, referrals and crisis intervention for victims and witnesses of abuse, violent crimes and hate crimes.

The school resource officer program aims to ensure safety and prevent truancy and violence in middle and high schools.

School resource officers help educate citizens about the justice system and address public safety concerns, especially in relation to the influence of drugs and juvenile violence.

The department’s grants program for school resource officers requires that localities receiving state money to support their officers make cash contributions of their own, based on a spending formula developed by the Department of Education.