Category Archives: Law enforcement

Stay Calm: Police Finally Release Make and Model of the Va. Beach Pier Car

by Kerry Dougherty

Everyone try to maintain your composure. Let’s all stay calm. Perhaps a few moments of meditation are in order.

Deep breath.

Ready?

We finally know the make and model of the car that drove off the 14th Street pier more than a week ago.

The police had that information but withheld it from the public, they said, “to avoid a panic.”

The car that spent almost a week in the Atlantic because the city couldn’t figure out how to remove it from its watery 17-foot grave is a red Nissan Kicks.

Good Lord that’s shocking. Thank goodness THOSE details didn’t leak. Imagine what might have happened.

In case you’re wondering, as I was, what a Nissan Kicks looks like, we’ve included a photo of the panic-inducing compact SUV from the NissanUSA website. Continue reading

Too Many Pieces of the 14th Street Pier Puzzle Don’t Fit

by Kerry Dougherty

Day two and we have more questions than answers about what happened Saturday morning on the 14th Street pier in Virginia Beach.

Yes, we know an SUV drove through two barriers and off the end of the pier. We learned that strong ocean currents and murky water are creating problems for those trying to haul it to the surface.

But get a load of what the police will say when they know the local news media don’t know how to ask follow up questions. (This is from the local newspaper):

Police have not determined who was operating the vehicle, nor do they know if anyone else was inside, according to Virginia Beach police spokesman Jude Brenya. While authorities have identified the type of vehicle, an SUV, police are not releasing the make or model to avoid causing “a panic,” he said.

A PANIC? Seriously?

What the heck are they talking about? What kind of panic? Is this some sort of alien craft? A self-driving Tesla? A Chinese spy SUV? Continue reading

Stuck in the Secretary’s Office

Andrew Wheeler, Director, Office of Regulatory Management

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Youngkin administration is sitting on regulations needed to implement important legislation enacted by the General Assembly in 2020. The delay constitutes a violation of that law.

In its 2020 Special Session, the General Assembly expanded the grounds for decertifying law-enforcement and jail officers. The background of this legislation was described in detail on this blog in a previous article, so there is no need to repeat that information here.

The legislation required the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), under the direction of the Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB), to adopt statewide professional standards of conduct for law-enforcement and jail officers. The timeline set out in the legislation would have required the standards of conduct to go into effect by mid-December 2021, two years ago. DCJS missed the deadline. The CJSB approved the regulations on June 16, 2022. The Attorney General certified the regulations on Aug. 2, 2022. The Department of Planning and Budget completed its review of the economic impact of the regulations on Aug. 22, 2022. The regulations have been under review in the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security’s office since then—470 days, more than a year and a quarter. Continue reading

Slasher Ordered to Reimburse Medical Bills of his Victim

by Kerry Dougherty

Several things strike me about this crime and restitution story out of Patrick County.

First, after Larry Puckett nearly stabbed Justin Hawkes to death in the fall of 2019, Mr. Hawkes  incurred about $120,000 in medical bills.

Because the injured man was indigent, Medicaid stepped in and negotiated the price down to $22,000.

If this former English major’s math is correct that’s just under 20% of the original bill.

Does this suggest there’s some padding in medical bills? You bet it does. In fact, receiving any medical procedure is a lot like buying an airline ticket. Everyone on the flight pays a different amount for the privilege of squeezing into a tiny seat and arriving at the exact time. Some folks spent a fortune for their tickets. Others got a cut-rate price.

Same goes for medical bills, although many of those are accompanied by an emergency that leaves no time to shop around for a better price.

Face it, medical care is a racket. Dare to ask why that Tylenol they gave you in the hospital cost 15 bucks and you’ll get a verbal tsunami of indignation and gibberish. Just pay it, they say. You have insurance.

In this case, according to the Virginia Mercury, the judge ordered Larry Puckett to repay Medicaid for the injuries he inflicted on Mr. Hawkes once he completed his prison sentence:

Puckett was convicted by Patrick Circuit Court of malicious wounding. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with eight years suspended, and ordered to complete five years of probation and pay … the cost of the medical services as restitution. The restitution was to be paid in $50 increments each month following his release from prison.

I like it! Continue reading

A VSU Officer was Shot and Left Paralyzed. At Thanksgiving, Readers Can Help Him and His Family

VSU Police Officer Bruce Foster. Courtesy Foster Family fundraiser website

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia State University (VSU) Police Officer Bruce Foster, 38, was shot on November 12.

He had chased down a suspect who was causing an early Sunday morning disturbance on campus.

Officer Foster was shot from behind while making the arrest.  He remains hospitalized and paralyzed from the waist down.

The five-year veteran of the VSU Police Department has a wife and four children.

This Thanksgiving, each of our readers can help him and his family through this.

VSU Police Officer Bruce Foster and his wife, Deidra. Courtesy Foster Family fundraiser website

I hope you will.

To donate to the Foster Family fundraiser, click here.

Bruce Foster and his four children.  Courtesy of the Foster Family fundraiser website.

Bari Weiss: “You are the Last Line of Defense”

by James C. Sherlock

Video courtesy of the Free Press.  See that link for a full transcript.  I recommend it to everyone.

Bari Weiss recently delivered a speech that will be long remembered.

She offered eloquence in the service of experience, sorrow and determination.  And defined the internal, and existential, threat to America.

I will share with you below short slices of the transcript.

She spoke to the Federalist Society about college radicalism turned antisemitism.  But not just antisemitism.

It is a radicalism that turns with threats, career assassinations and even violence on everything outside its very narrow, “intersectional” acceptance zone.  It is – proudly – a threat to America’s security and the western civilization it hates.

She would not have been welcome at some of Virginia’s most prestigious public IHEs.

And all of us know it. Continue reading

Governor Youngkin Steps to Curb Anti-Semitic Activities – How about Law Enforcement?

by James C. Sherlock

Governor Glenn Youngkin took action today with an Executive Directive to “Combat Antisemitism and Anti-Religious Bigotry in the Commonwealth and on Campuses.”

It is excellent, and we look forward to immediate steps by other actors in the Commonwealth. Continue reading

Miyares Moves to Support Israel

Jason Miyares

from The Republican Standard

In the wake of the attack on Israel carried out by terrorist organization Hamas last week, Attorney General Jason Miyares is calling upon Virginia law enforcement agencies to help Israelis fight for their lives in a new way.

Fox News obtained copies of a letter distributed to over 100 sheriffs’ offices by the AG’s office, urging them to donate “surplus body armor, protective gear and other tactical equipment” to be collected by his office and sent to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Continue reading

Virginia Deserves a Parole Board that Puts Public Safety First

Patricia West

by Kerry Dougherty

When Terry McAuliffe was governor he found a loyal Democrat lawyer to appoint to head Virginia’s parole board.

That was Adrianne Bennett, a failed candidate for the House of Delegates in 2011 and undoubtedly the most controversial parole board chair in Virginia history. She was a success if you believe, as McAuliffe apparently did, that the job of that board is to spring murderers and make Virginians less safe. Continue reading

Where Do Dems Stand on Civil Immunity for Law Enforcement Officers?

by James C. Sherlock

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Being a law enforcement officer is tough under the best of circumstances.

Do you think that exposure to losing your house and car in a civil suit for something you did in a split second to protect the public and yourself and did not have reason to know was against the law would deter you from a job in law enforcement?

Truth is, it would deter all of us.

Virginia Democrats in 2021 introduced legislation to eliminate under Virginia law a peace officer’s ability to offer an immunity defense in state courts against civil lawsuits for actions that violate constitutional rights:

A. Any law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, who, under color of law, subjects or causes to be subjected, including failing to intervene, any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities granted to such person under the constitutions and laws of the United States and the Commonwealth, shall be liable to the injured party for compensatory damages, punitive damages, and equitable relief….

B. Sovereign immunity and any limitations on liability or damages shall not apply to claims brought pursuant to this section. Qualified immunity is not a defense to liability imposed by this section.

A 2017 per curiam (unanimous) opinion by the Supreme Court reiterated a long-existing legal standard that qualified immunity is an available defense for law enforcement officers unless there is “clearly established law giving each individual Officer fair notice that his particular conduct was unlawful.”

It is hard to imagine that the Supreme Court, unanimous there, would permit a state law that denied civil immunity without fair notice of the illegality of specific acts.

Regardless, under the 2021 Democratic bill in Virginia, officers were to be in jeopardy in civil suits whether or not they had fair notice that their actions, split-second or otherwise, were unlawful.  They were specifically to be required to judge the constitutionality of specific actions.

With a gun in their face.

It draws a very clear line for political debate. Continue reading

A Simple Statement of Fact about the Public Schools

by James C. Sherlock

I know. Schools. Again.

But Virginia’s schools have been shown to be getting worse faster than those of other states.

Perhaps we should do something.

Read the National Assessment Board’s press release from June 21st. One paragraph drew my attention:

The LTT assessments in reading and math measure fundamental skills among nationally representative, age-based cohorts and have been administered since 1971 and 1973, respectively.

Students were generally making progress until 2012, when scores started declining.

Scores took a sharp downturn during the pandemic. Today, the average score for 13-year-olds on the LTT reading assessment is about where it was in 1971.

Despite the large decline in math, the average score in 2023 remains higher than in 1973.

Declining since 2012 nationwide.

Virginia’s have been declining since 2017. In a hurry.

Continue reading

Check Out Which New Virginia Laws Go Into Effect July 1st

by The Republican Standard staff

The Virginia General Assembly passed several small bills due to the split between the Republican-led House of Delegates and the Democratic-controlled Virginia State Senate. Yet the areas where they did find co-operation could matter to many Virginians as we head into Fourth of July weekend.

Enhanced Penalties for Fentanyl Manufacturing or Distribution
Reeves SB1188 Senate 35-5 House 50-42
Provides that any person who knowingly and intentionally manufactures or knowingly and intentionally distributes a weapon of terrorism when such person knows that such weapon of terrorism is, or contains, any mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

Universal Occupational License Recognition
McDougle SB1213 Senate 40-0 House 99-0
Establishes criteria for an individual licensed, certified, or having work experience in another state to apply to a regulatory board within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and be issued an occupational license or government certification if certain conditions are met.

Police Chiefs May Enact Local Curfews during Disturbances
Norment SB1455 Senate 27-12 House 53-45
Enables the chief law-enforcement officer of a locality to enact a curfew under certain circumstances during a civil disturbance.

Making Sure Every District has a Legislator
Suetterlein SB944 Senate 39-0 House 99-0
Requires special elections to fill a vacancy in the membership of the General Assembly be held within 30 days of the vacancy if the vacancy occurs or will occur between December 10 and March 10 which coincides with time right before and during the General Assembly session. Continue reading

Past Time for Serious Sanctions for the Commonwealth’s Worst Nursing Homes

by James C. Sherlock

Effective May 1 of this year, Karen Shelton M.D. became Virginia’s Health Commissioner. Dr. Shelton is now the licensor and regulator of Virginia’s nursing homes.

By law, state-licensed nursing homes must comply with federal and state laws and standards. By regulation, the Health Commissioner “may impose such administrative sanctions or take such actions as are appropriate for violation of any of the standards or statutes or for abuse or neglect of persons in care.”

It is time.

I hope that she will pose a challenge to her Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC), of which I am a public admirer, that goes something like this.

Too many Virginia nursing homes are measured objectively by CMS (the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services) to be dangerous to the health and welfare of their patients through a combination of:

  • inspections that we ourselves conduct;
  • staffing measures linked to payroll data; and
  • medical quality measures from federal records.

Many have been that way for a very long time.

Current staffing far below CMS requirements seems to indicate that too many have no apparent path to improvement.

Come and see me in a couple of weeks with a list of the absolute worst of them.

And tell me why I should not shut them down to let the rest know that there are minimum standards beneath which they will not be permitted to operate in Virginia.

And one more thing.

Please let me know if there are organizations or individuals, current or recent, whose facilities have appeared regularly enough with the lowest staffing rating to indicate that understaffing may constitute a business model rather than a local exigency.

That too will not be tolerated.

We will take on those challenges here as if they are our own.

This article will identify the absolute worst of the facilities, using government records. The next will look at understaffing trends among owners. Continue reading

Scandal in Plain Sight – Virginia’s Failed Regulation of Law-Avoiding Nursing Home Owners

by James C. Sherlock

One of the most important and heart-wrenching decisions families make for their elderly loved ones is whether they are able to keep them in their homes as they get older and sicker.

Sometimes that is not feasible for a long list of reasons in each case.

More than 30,000 Virginians live in nursing homes.

Both the federal government and Virginia regulate them.  The Virginia Department of Health, for both the Commonwealth and the federal government, inspects.

We should be able to expect patients to receive at least basic standards of care. A high percentage in Virginia have not .

In a five-star system, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rates 98 of Virginia’s 289 nursing homes at one star – defined as much below average. More than a third.

Nationwide, only the worst 20 percent receive a one-star rating.

The last time I reported, in October of 2021, those figures were 54 one-star facilities out of 288. Nineteen percent.  So some of our nursing homes have gotten precipitously worse.

The ratings are backward-looking a couple of years, so the measured declines discussed here did not start recently.   By definition of the way that Medicare compiles records and assigns scores, some have been bad for a long time.

People have suffered and died from the lack of proper care and effective oversight. Continue reading

Virginia Democrats in the House of Representatives Vote Against Their Own Daughters

USA Women’s National Team 2019

by James C. Sherlock

Abigail Spanberger, (D) Va. – Voted against protections for girls and women in sports

Every Virginia Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against a bill to amend Title IX to prohibit biological boys and men from competing against biological girls and women in K-12 and college sports.

Voting nay: Donald Beyer, Gerald Connolly, Jennifer McClellan, Bobby Scott, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton.

H.R. 734 Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 amends Title IX (“on the basis of sex”) by stating that the term “sex” in athletics shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.

Jennifer McClellan (D) Va. – Voted against protections for girls and women in sports

The consequences of a no vote. H.R. 734 protects the dreams and hard work of girls who wish to play college sports.

The ones who got up early and stayed late training for their sport. The ones whose parents ferried them to practice and games on weekends.

It protects girls and young women in contact sports such as soccer and field hockey from inevitable injury from bigger, stronger, faster men.

Indeed, it protects their ability to participate.

It prevents the biological male who never won a medal from deciding — no hormones or surgery required — he is female to mount the platform and be awarded the gold. To break records set by girls and women.

To get rich with the new NIL rule in college sports and richer yet in women’s professional sports.

Everyone who thinks that won’t happen, raise your hand. Continue reading