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2014-2-9

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will meet on Thursday, October 18, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.  The public is welcome to attend.

One Person Can Make a Difference

 

Lane Whitehead raised an impressive $916.00 thanks to generous donations and support from our local community. Lane and Crew were completely sold out by 4:45!! 

    

    

STATE DECLINES DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS STUDY

By Eric Luther, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A resolution allowing government agencies to examine employment conditions of penitentiaries statewide was tabled this week by the General Assembly’s Committee on Rules.  The resolution, proposed by Delegate Roslyn C. Tyler, D- Jarratt, would have directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study employee health and safety concerns at the Virginia Department of Corrections. The resolution also would have inspected adequacy of staffing levels and turnover rates at correctional facilities across the Commonwealth.  Tyler says the committee acknowledged the study was needed.  However, JLARC is already three years behind in completing other studies.  “There are 30,000 inmates in prisons that (corrections officers) protect us from each day,” Tyler said. “They deserve the right to be kept safe and compensated as any other law enforcement officer.”

Don Baylor, an organizer for the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers’ Virginia chapter, spent nearly 30 years at the DOC before retiring in 2007. During his time with the department, Baylor worked as a corrections officer and watch commander at facilities throughout the state.  Baylor personally conveyed DOC health and safety concerns to Tyler. He says it is time to address the burden understaffing and budget cuts has placed on frontline correctional officers.  “There are a number of reasons why we need this study,” Baylor said. “The stress on these individuals who provide security and protection in these facilities is widespread and increasing.”

According to Baylor, studies by the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Justice Services and other organizations illustrate deteriorating health conditions among DOC personnel.  “We’re talking about a group of employees who are carrying one of the highest suicide rates, divorce rates and mortality rates of any other employees in this nation,” Baylor said. “Studies show that these folks are reaching stress levels of epidemic proportions.”

One such study was presented at the 2011 American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention by Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, a nonprofit organization seeking to improve health and safety of corrections staff through data-driven analysis.  The study sampled more than 3,500 corrections professionals’ from 49 states and three U.S. territories to assess the prevalence of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and comorbid PTSD/depression among workers.

Desert Waters also explored the relationship between specific disorders and job type, according to official documents. Indices of health and well-being such as doctor visits, work absences and substance use also were measured.  Results show depression and PTSD rates among corrections personnel far exceed those of the general population. Overall, PTSD prevalence was estimated to be about 27 percent, according to the study. More than three times the rate of U.S. adults. 

Additionally, Desert Waters determined corrections officers’ risk of suicide is 39 percent higher than all other professions combined.  Baylor says residents and legislators alike need to be aware of the long-term physical and mental issues DOC working conditions can create.  “We need to take a look at these professionals and understand that if we get to a breaking point -- not only are correctional officers and the (incarcerated) people they are in charge of at risk,” Baylor said. “But the public at large.”

The results highlighted in Desert Waters’ study suggest the need for a comprehensive screening of employee health in corrections.

 According to official documents, system-wide interventions to address elevated levels of depression, PTSD and comorbidity also are necessary.  HJ31 stated all agencies of the commonwealth shall provide assistance to JLARC for this study, upon request. JLARC’s chairman then would submit a summary of its findings and recommendations no later than the first day of the 2015 General Assembly session.

Co-patron Delegate Vivian Watts, D-Annadale, and NCPSO President Richard Hatch did not respond to requests for comments.

Grant Would Fund Active-Shooter Training

By James Galloway, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A bill is advancing through the House that would grant “active shooter” training funds to smaller police forces, which currently have no budget to accommodate the over-time pay to prepare for mass shootings.  Delegate Mike Webert, R-Marshall, said the Fauquier County Sheriff Department recently integrated an active shooter program. To do so, he said the department brought in experts from Fairfax, which has a larger police force.  “(Fairfax) has one of the best task forces in the nation,” Webert said. “A lot of their guys end up training our smaller localities. So, we want to be able to provide our localities with the tools to help keep our children safe.”

Webert said the initial training cost Fauquier County money that was not in the police budget, which is why he introduced legislation calling for a $500,000 training grant. His bill would grant funding up to $50,000 per locality to provide overtime pay for police officers to be trained to respond in the event of a shooting.

Lt. James Hartman, of the Fauquier County Sheriff Department, said his department is “very much in favor of the bill and (supports) it 100 percent.”

Hartman said it is obvious the active shooter and training grant fund is needed in jurisdictions like Fauquier County. He described his department as “too small to be big, and too big to be small,” adding that the force has about 125 sworn officers covering patrols and stationed in schools.  Hartman said overtime pay for active-shooter training exceeds the police budget. He said over-time costs between $16,000–$17,000 for each training session and consists of about 22 officers.

The training covers response tactics leading to the neutralization of an active shooter. Usually, Hartman said, his department will go into a school when students are out and stage a simulation using actors. County schools even have color-coded doors so officers easily can communicate their locations from within a building.  Although his department trains for the first critical minutes of a public school incident, Hartman said “active shooter” applies to more than just school shootings.  “Active shooter incidents across the country mainly have just been in schools,” he said. “But we’ve also seen active shooters in workplaces, such as the Navy Yard shooter (and) movie theaters.”

Hartman said his department already has conducted four training sessions and had a fifth planned in January.

Chief John Venuti of the VCU Police Department would not discuss specific training.  "The VCU Police Department provides active shooter training to the campus community,” Venuti stated in an email. “We do not discuss specific information pertaining to training, technology or tactics."

Webert said he hopes to convince the appropriations committee to create a grant from the currently unappropriated federal fund, which he said is about $15 million.

Obituary-Laura Claudette Barnes

Laura Claudette Barnes, 46, of Emporia passed away on February 7, 2014.  She was preceded in death by her father William Barnes.  She is survived by her mother Judy Barnes; children, Shannon Faison and husband Kent, William Matthew Barnes, Ashley Walker and husband De’Von and Joshua Barnes; step-grandchildren Bailey and Sydney; sister Pam Barbour and husband Tim; nephews Brad and Bryan; niece Carrie; two great-nieces Kalli Barbour and Alivia Barbour.  A visitation will be held Sunday, February 9th, at 2pm, at Word of Life Assembly of God Church followed by a memorial service at 3pm. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Word of Life Assembly of God Church, 707 Brunswick Ave., Emporia, VA 23847.   Condolences may be sent to www.Echolsfuneralhome.com

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