The job of a prosecutor is vitally important but it cannot be done alone. There are many cogs in the system of justice. The failure of any one of them leads to a city that is less safe and a criminal justice system that does not function the way the citizens want or deserve. Over the course of my many years in the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office I have cultivated those relationships that make a prosecutor the most effective because I have won the trust and respect of those with whom I have worked. As your Commonwealth’s Attorney making sure that our office works hand in hand with every partner in our system of justice will be a priority.
1. Relationships with Police
The most important relationship a prosecutor has is with the police. The police investigate the crimes and arrest the offenders. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office prosecutes the offenders and proves them guilty in court. When this relationship is functioning properly there is an efficient and effective investigation that results in a strong case. The prosecutor consults with police during the investigation and before an arrest is made. The law enforcement officer stays in constant communication with the prosecutor as the case makes its way through court. Through hard work, teamwork and dedicated effort offenders are brought to justice.
2. Relationships with Citizens
The prosecutor must also have the trust and respect of the community to effectively prosecute crime. Often, violent crimes happen and witnesses observe everything that took place. Yet these witnesses can be reluctant and sometimes outright unwilling to cooperate with the investigation or prosecution of the offenders. They would rather their neighborhood be less safe, with a violent criminal on its streets, than cooperate with law enforcement. This is a major obstacle which can only be overcome by constant and respectful interaction and communication with all of the communities in our city.
Over the years I have sat in the living rooms and spoken with the reluctant witnesses in these neighborhoods. I have the experience of knowing how to speak with these witnesses and earn their trust. It takes dedicated effort and genuine willingness to engage the community to build the rapport needed to change attitudes and fight crime. As your Commonwealth’s Attorney I will fight to gain the respect of every citizen in every community because that is how we keep every neighborhood in this city safe.
3. Relationships with Nonprofits
The impacts of crime are felt by many different people in many different ways. Many victims of crime are themselves in desperate situations. They will be prone to be victims of crime again if they cannot get the help they need to remove themselves from the situations they are in. The Commonwealth’s Attorneys office has victim advocates who do excellent work but some victims require the extra services that local nonprofits dedicated to specific victims have the ability to provide.
I know this first hand. I am the President of the Board of Directors of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Central Virginia, a nonprofit which advocates for abused and neglected children. These children have been dealt a tough hand in life and without support, love and intervention now they may become tomorrow’s offender. I am also on the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Central Virginia. The YWCA operates the domestic violence prevention center which includes a women’s shelter and they also mange the sexual assault response program.
Nonprofit programs such as these and countless others are invaluable assets to help those impacted by the criminal acts of others to navigate the criminal justice process.
4. Relationships with Local Schools
Training and educating tomorrow’s leaders of our city is a role I will take very seriously as your Commonwealth’s Attorney. During my career at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office I have had multiple opportunities to instruct and mentor the youth of our community. For example,
- I worked with talented local 5th graders at the GO Center and helped them to stage a mock criminal and civil trial to gain insight and experience into what our court system of justice is really all about.
- I worked with the Youth Education Support (YES) program which mentored middle school aged students to be leaders in their communities and positive examples to other students facing the potential pitfalls of poverty and gang memberships.
- I frequently speak to classrooms and am part of the Rule of Law program which talks to students about the rule of law, that the laws apply equally and fairly and consistently to everyone without exception. This is the bedrock principle of our system of government.
- I frequently guest lecture at local colleges and universities about topics in criminal justice and I am a former Adjunct Professor at the Helms School of Government at Liberty University.
These are just a few examples of my efforts to build relationships with local schools in our area.
As your Commonwealth’s Attorney, I will continue to build upon those relationships and forge new ones so that our citizens can have the necessary resources available to combat crime.