They don’t have much in common — Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Bryce Reeves — but they both agree on at least one point: policing crime is more than just arresting people.
It is about keeping communities safe.
To that end, Democrat McAuliffe, signed legislation Thursday at the Avalon Center of Greater Williamsburg, which toughens laws against violent offenders to make it harder to get away with domestic violence with just probation.
The measure — House Bill 2064 — was put forth by Delegate Mike Mullin (D-93).
Earlier in the day at the York-Poquoson Courthouse, Reeves (R-17), who seeks the GOP nomination for Lt. Governor, met with Sheriff Danny Diggs to discuss the addiction epidemic rolling through parts of Virginia. Several deputies, a social worker and a former addict joined the two men with the discussion.
While Reeves and McAuliffe spoke about different subjects within the criminal justice system, both men agreed policing is about more than locking people up. McAuliffe and Reeves both said they were looking to fix the problems facing the commonwealth to keep Virginia safe.
After signing the bill, McAuliffe said “people are dying every single day because we lack the political courage to do the right thing.”
Reeves, a former narcotics detective in Prince William County, said it was time for the state and county officials to crack down on the “profit driven” distributors of drugs while helping addicts get the help they need.
“Somewhere in here we’ve got to break the cycle,” Reeves said. “Recovering addicts are one bad decision away from living good lives…It’s having that safety net behind you.”
On the other hand, McAuliffe praised legislators such as Mullin for getting tougher on violent offenders and for advocating for victims as a criminal prosecutor.
“There’s a cycle of abuse that people find themselves in that becomes so difficult to extricate yourself from,” Mullin said. “Certain bad actors were able to take advantage of the system, people we don’t want to get away with domestic violence on a technicality.”
Reeves said it was important the General Assembly worked with law enforcement to craft legislation on the addiction crisis.
“What we have is a broken system right now,” Reeves said.
The drug crisis is ripping families apart, according to Sheriff Diggs.
“We’ve all been touched by the heroin epidemic,” Sheriff Diggs said to Reeves. “It’s destroying lives.”
McAuliffe said that while domestic violence and addiction are separate policy issues he said he was happy to change legislation that continued to allow violent offenders to abuse their intimate partners among other legislative actions.
“The idea that people were gaming our system using this first offender status where they had assaulted or been involved in some kind of violence before, and then if they’ve done it against a family member they were trying to get probation,” McAuliffe said. “If you’re involved in violence, we’re gonna get you.”
For legislators and law enforcement alike, time has taught them to reach out to those in need and help the best way they can.
Lt. Dennis Ivey, a 27 year veteran of police work and York Poquoson Sheriff’s Office spokesman, sat in the meeting with Reeves.
Ivey spoke up when the senator mentioned his opinions on policing had changed significantly since the 1980s.
“Good people make bad decisions,” Lt. Ivey said to Reeves. “It took me a long time to learn that.”