For the past 24 years, multiple city agencies and organizations in Hampton and Newport News on the Criminal Justice Community Board have collaborated on how to prevent crime, evaluate new or existing community programs and other duties.
“There is a definitely a need for it,” said Marcus Dennis, director of the Criminal Justice Agency in Hampton who also oversees the board.
Dennis serves as the point of contact for the board and works directly with members including Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan.
“I’ve been on the board for quite a while,” said Morgan, who has been chairman of the board for at least four years. See the full list of board members here.
Morgan said the idea of the board is to work together in order to streamline the system and ensure justice is best served. One of the main issues the board has tackled in the community is mental health.
Two years ago, the board passed a mental health docket for Newport News so offenders with mental illness could access treatment in addition or in lieu of jail time. Hampton passed a similar docket, but it only pertains to offenders who are veterans.
Morgan said the dockets are part of the board’s multi-layered approach to mental illness in conjunction with the Crisis Intervention Training, a program where police officers, sheriff’s deputies and paramedics complete 40 hours of training with the community service board so they can recognize and intervene appropriately with someone who has mental illness.
“Sometimes people will misunderstand outbursts,” Morgan said.
Besides elected chair and co-chairs, who serve with no term limits, the board includes various community stakeholders such as representatives from the housing redevelopment, human services and other departments.
Dennis said there is also a “citizen representative” chosen by the city.
However, Morgan said he’s unaware of a citizen representative being present.
“I have not seen an elected citizen on the board,” he said.
It remains unclear if there is a citizen representative on the Criminal Justice Community Board.