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Norfolk commonwealth's attorney voices concern over Youngkin's 'Operation Bold Blue Line'

Right now, Ramin Fatehi said 1/3 of Virginia’s prosecutor offices have vacancies, and he would rather see state funding help fill those slots.

NORFOLK, Va. — New plans to tackle crime at the state level are getting scrutiny here in Norfolk.

"Operation Bold Blue Line" is a new safety initiative by Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration to tackle violent crime across Virginia. State officials announced the plan at a press conference in Norfolk on Monday.

Youngkin said the plan aims to support law enforcement staffing, pay, recruitment, and bolster technology. Youngkin wants to put an amendment in the state budget for $30 million.

“The governor’s announcement yesterday, it was long on promises and short on details,” said Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi.

Fatehi sent out a statement following the press conference questioning how the governor will execute this plan.

“Here in Norfolk, we need more officers,” Fatehi said. “I am in favor of things that can help with our staffing shortage. It is not the what, it is the how I am waiting to hear.”

Gov. Youngkin’s plan also seeks to hire more prosecutors to keep violent offenders behind bars and get more resources to victims and witnesses of the crimes.

Fatehi said he is pleased to hear about witness protection funding, something he’s long asked for.

“If they put together a program that gives me more witnesses, that will in the end make us safer and help put a dent in violent crime,” Fatehi said.

Attorney General Jason Miyares said they will hire five to six Special Assistant United States Attorneys to help prosecute violent crime.

Right now, Fatehi said one-third of Virginia’s prosecutor offices have vacancies, and he would rather see funding fill those slots.

“Taking our most experienced gang prosecutors, even if it is just five to six, in a 40-person office like mine, I can absorb the loss of a prosecutor if somebody leaves here,” Fatehi said. “Most offices are between two and 16 lawyers. You take a lawyer out of a 10-person office, or a five-person office, you could cripple that office.”

He said state leaders should focus on the root causes of violence by providing communities with better access to jobs, transportation, education and more.

“If the governor and the attorney general and the lieutenant governor and the General Assembly don’t address the root causes of violence, then from now until forever, prosecutors like me and anyone who comes behind me, is going to be picking up the pieces and dealing with the symptoms rather than the underlying cause,” Fatehi said.

13News Now reached out to other Hampton Roads Commonwealth’s Attorneys to see what they had to say about the governor’s announcement.

Newport New Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn said he is encouraged by the administration’s emphasis on violent crime and increasing law enforcement staffing. He said he is also very encouraged to hear about resources for witness protection. But he said he would also like to hear about more support for prosecutor staffing.

13NewsNow reached out to the press secretaries for Gov. Youngkin and Miyares for comment about Fatehi’s statement but have not heard back.

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