One of the most difficult calls for service that we here at the Sheriff’s Office respond to is calls of domestic violence. These can be one of the most dangerous calls that a deputy can respond. These calls can involve highly emotional victims and suspects and in many instances drugs or alcohol are involved. Research by the Department of Justice and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund revealed that between 2010 and 2014, that out of 91 on-duty fatalities during a response to a dispatcher call, 20 stemmed from a domestic dispute. Therefore, we know the threats that are present when our deputies are responding to domestic violence calls.
In response, Virginia has enacted some of the strictest domestic violence laws in the nation to help those who are victims of domestic violence. The most recent law enacted by Virginia’s General Assembly went into effect on this past July 1st . This law is intended to take firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. The law states that a person who is subject to a final Family Abuse Protective Order is prohibited from possessing a firearm. When this protective order is served on the respondent, that individual has 24 hours to relieve themselves of any firearms that they have in their possession. If they are found to be in possession of a firearm after that, they will be charged with a Class 6 felony which a conviction can lead to a period of incarceration of up to five years and up to a $2500.00 fine and permanent loss of the right to ever possess a firearm.
To give those who are served with a final protective order a safe place to store their firearms, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services asked law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth to consider volunteering to be a repository for these firearms. It has always been my policy to offer this type of service to the citizens of Dinwiddie County. Therefore, it was an easy decision to let DCJS know that we would gladly hold these firearms here at he Sheriff’s Office.
Governor McAuliffe and the Department of Criminal Justice Services made grant funding available to help those agencies that were willing to hold these firearms to fund facilitating this initiative. On September 15th Governor McAuliffe announced that three agencies received a share of these available funds. Dinwiddie County will receive $67,189.00 over a two-year period to fund a technician that will track and provide analysis for all domestic violence reports and protective orders in the county as well as assisting our evidence manager with inventorying and tracking the firearms that we take in as part of this new law. Funds will also go towards expanding our storage facilities for firearms. The newly created position will also help our Investigative Unit and deputies as a crime analyst to track crimes other than domestic violence.
I am very pleased to have received this funding and I want to give a special thanks to Marie Grant, Grants and Community Information Coordinator for Dinwiddie County, for her assistance with making application for this grant. Marie has done an outstanding job in assisting us with all of the grant opportunities. If you have any questions about this new law or the newly created position please feel free to give me a call here at the Sheriff’s Office.