RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A newly-created task force will recommend proposals to Gov. Glenn Youngkin on ways to help reduce violent crimes in Virginia.
The task force, announced by Youngkin’s office on Monday, will be led by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bob Mosier and include members of the administration and Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office.
Youngkin and Miyares campaigned on being tough on crime last year, criticizing Democrats for being too lenient on criminals, the scandal surrounding the state’s parole board and focusing on rising homicide rates.
Data shows an increase in homicides in central Virginia from 2021 to 2020. Homicides in Richmond went from 66 in 2020 to 90 in 2021, a 36% increase. Despite the spike, Richmond police reported only a 1% increase in violent crime from 2020 to 2021.
The city has reported 22 homicides in 2022 as of May 15, two fewer than at the same point in 2021.
While murders increased in Virginia in 2020 — as they did across the country — violent crime decreased from the previous year and remained well below the national average.
Overall, violent crime in Virginia fell by 1.9% in 2020 compared to 2019 despite the commonwealth reporting a 23.4% increase in homicides, according to the Crime in Virginia report from state police.
There were nearly 400 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the United States in 2020, almost double the rate in Virginia, according to FBI data.
The FBI’s annual report on crime shows that violent crime in the United States increased by 5.6% from 2019 to 2020, with murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses surging by 29.4% and aggravated assaults moving up 12.1%.
The 2020 data — released in September 2021 — also shows drops in robberies (9.3%) and rape offenses (12%) from 2019 to 2020.
Leaders in the “Violent Crime Task Force” have and will continue to meet with community leaders across Virginia to discuss ways to address violent crimes. The task force will share executive, administrative and legislative actions “on an ongoing basis” with Youngkin, a release from the governor’s office said.
“We will take a comprehensive look at how we can address the rise in violent crime by providing more law enforcement resources, creating alternative and after-school activities for children, and addressing the fear that results in witnesses failing to show up for a criminal hearing,” Youngkin said in a statement Monday.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck Slemp will help Secretary Mosier lead the task force, along with leaders from Youngkin’s office, Miyares’ office, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia State Police and more.
Meetings have already been held between the state and local leaders in Petersburg, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Norfolk and more have been set in the coming weeks.