Public Comments for: HB116 - Pulaski, Town of; regional criminal justice academy.
Last Name: Schrad Organization: Va Assn of Chiefs of Police Locality: Hanover

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police recognizes the need of agencies to transfer to a different criminal justice training academy, but there needs to be consideration of the fiscal impact on a training academy budget when a dues-paying agency leaves the academy. Passage of this bill could cause other agencies to leave their academies without fiscal responsibility for the impact on that regional academy budget.

Last Name: Rygas Organization: Town of Pulaski / Town Attorney Locality: Town of Pulaski

Speaking on behalf of the Town of Pulaski relative to request of Town of Pulaski to exit Cardinal Police Academy. Modification of 15.2-1747

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

Please move to report HB116, HB710, HB1070, HB548, HB1088. Thank you.

Last Name: Mullins Locality: Augusta

I am a retired Regional Academy Director but I continue to monitor developments related to Regional Academies. Having read the comments relating to this bill, I could not add anything to the comments that oppose this bill as they are very thorough. I can however confirm that those comments opposing this bill to be factual and accurate in my opinion. I would urge those considering this bill to either outright oppose it or at the very least postpone its passage and take time to do more research. I am certain this bill will likely have unintended consequences that could be devastating to Regional Academies.

Last Name: Roche Organization: Prior Chief Pulaski PD Locality: Roanoke

If passed, this bill will open the flood gates for localities to circumvent the current law for localities to withdraw from their present academy. If, the town wants to withdraw, then it should be required to follow the present process just like every other locality prior to this date. Otherwise, the G.A. should amend the current law and allow everyone the same option. I know that Cardinal Academy invested in a house to serve as a barracks for two of their member agencies, one of those being Pulaski. Cardinal Academy should be allowed to recover that in investment.

Last Name: barlow Organization: Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Trainig Academy Locality: Hampton

As the director of one of the commonwealth’s eleven regional academies, a law enforcement officer since 1985 and a law enforcement trainer since 1988 I wanted to take a moment and bring a significant issue with the regional academy system in Virginia to your attention. Regional academies have faced significant budgeting issues for as long as I can remember. Historically, each regional academy is funded by the state at approximately $100.00 per officer/deputy/dispatcher per year. This leaves the majority of funding to the membership of each regional academy. Recognizing this the general assembly passed the regional academy stabilization act/law (15.2-1747) in 2001. This law requires a vote of the regional academy board to allow an organization to leave. This may seem unreasonable to some jurisdictions, but imagine a significant percentage of a city being annexed by another city with no checks and balances, which causes a significant loss of revenue. This is similar to what occurs when a jurisdiction leaves a regional academy without following set procedures. In fact this is exactly why there are laws as to how to annex portions of one jurisdiction to another, and why there is a law to govern how to leave a regional academy. This code also allows for the board of a regional academy to set forth "conditions" (normally paying dues for a period of time) for leaving. We have done this at the HRCJTA several times to allow for budget stabilization. If an agency can simply bypass these "conditions" by amending an existing code section why would any jurisdiction agree to any conditions? I truly hope that you see how fragile the regional academy system is in Virginia. I understand that the system, and state code 15.2-1747, allows for an agency to leave to join another regional, or to become an independent, but this state code must be enforced and it is a disastrous trend to allow any agency to bypass this law. I would be please to discuss this further with you or the appropriate policy maker(s). Scott Barlow- Director HRCJTA

Last Name: Giles Organization: Sussex County Sheriff's Office Locality: Sussex

As Sheriff of Sussex County and Vice-Chair of Crater Criminal Justice Academy, I oppose this bill with an issue that will unwind the process that was put in place with the Regional Academy stabilization act. The potential de-stabilization of the Reginal Academy system agencies will be able to leave at times of their choosing is a grave concern for every academy and every Board in the state will affect the physical stability of the academies.

Last Name: Cox Organization: Galax Police Department Locality: Galax

I fully agree with this bill and urge your support. The code was put in place to prevent agencies from randomly jumping from one academy to the other, but allowed agencies to change every five years. Pulaski requested the move academies in 2021, which was the correct year, but being held like a hostage for ransom by their current academy does not make sense. Academies should prepare for changes that could occur in the fifth year and have contingencies in place in case agencies request to move. In addition to this, Montgomery County recently moved to the Cardinal Academy which would more than off-set any loss of revenue. In addition, Pulaski is located within a 10 minute drive of the New River Academy, which is located in Dublin, also in Pulaski County. All other agencies within Pulaski County train at the New River Academy which would also provide for consistent training with those the officer's work most with. It only makes sense for Pulaski to be allowed to switch without punishment.

Last Name: Callahan Organization: Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy Locality: Ashburn

Section 15.2-1747 describes the process for establishing regional criminal justice academies. This includes the requirement that member agencies enter into an agreement that establishes the governance of the Academy. Additionally the procedure for a member to withdraw is described in Paragraph D. It is noteworthy that the statute states, "The board of directors shall provide for the conditions of withdrawal." The Board of Directors of regional academies are authorized to enter into financial obligations such as leases, bonds and loans which obligate the members to a proportion of the debt. In the case of the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy, members are current obligated to a long term debt instrument that mature in 2026. By agreement no member may withdraw from the Academy while the debt is outstanding. The amendment proposed in HB116 allows one member of a different Academy to withdraw outside of the established process. Approval of this bill could undermine the ability of Academy Boards to operate effectively. Specifically , I fear that this could undermine the ability of Academies to secure long term financing. The security for the lender is the full faith and credit of the board as a whole. If agencies can withdraw at will, without having to meet the financial obligation that they have previously agreed to, the creditworthiness of the Academies will be downgraded by lenders. Additionally, the remaining agencies will be required to assume the financial liability of the agency that withdraws. The concern of the Town of Pulaski should be resolved in a business like fashion with the other members of the involved Academy. I oppose this legislation that may establish a precedent that allows other jurisdictions to withdraw from Academies contravening their obligations to the Academy.

Last Name: Tommie Bower Organization: Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy Locality: Frederick County

As the Executive Director for the Skyline Regional Criminal Justice Academy and current Vice President of the Virginia Association of Directors of Criminal Justice Training, I am asking for your support by opposing HB 116. If this bill, which is written to allow the Town of Pulaski the ability to leave Cardinal training academy and join New River training academy without penalty, were to pass it would set a precedent that would be detrimental to the future stability of our regional criminal justice training academy system. Existing, VA Code 15.2-1747 stipulates the processes in which an agency may be granted approval to leave/join a regional training academy. Circumventing that process is not the appropriate or responsible answer to Pulaski's request. Please refer to Director Vicker's, Cardinal Regional Training Academy's comment of the impact/stabilization studies and the results of such that aided in the development of our current practices. Regional training academies are already struggling with financial disparities from state funding that are impacting our local jurisdictions budgets. I urge your support for your Regional Law Enforcement Training Academies by opposing this bill. Thank you for your time

Last Name: Harvey Organization: Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy Locality: Fredericksburg

I am reaching out to you as the director of the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy, responsible for training law enforcement, jail and emergency communications officers in the Fredericksburg region, providing training for 42 Virginia Criminal Justice Agencies. I am reaching out to ask for your help in denying a bill which has the potential to negatively impact the regional training system statewide. This bill allows the Town of Pulaski to separate from Cardinal Regional Criminal Justice Academy and join New River Valley Criminal Justice Academy. The concern, all 11 regional academy directors share, is the precedent this bill would set up if successful. Below is some background and the concerns the regional academies have regarding this bill. The Board of Directors for the Cardinal Regional Academy voted to allow the Town of Pulaski to leave and join the New River Academy but provided a stipulation that Pulaski should make a final payment to Cardinal prior to being allowed to separate. This is a common stipulation at all 11 regional academies as it gives the academies time to absorb the loss of revenue from the separating agency. Pulaski refused to make the final payment and asked for this bill to be sponsored on their behalf. The main problem with this bill is that it creates precedent to go around existing code section 15.2-1747 which outlines the procedure for agencies to join or withdrawal from the regional academy system. If this bill is allowed to pass it will make the already financially strained regional academy system even more financially unstable as it will lay the ground work for other agencies to legislate out of an academy without financial concerns. I encourage you to please speak with your counter-parts and urge you to please oppose this bill.

Last Name: McNally Organization: Virginia Association of Directors of Criminal Justice Training / Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy Locality: WEYERS CAVE

As the Executive Director of Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Training Academy and current president of the Virginia Association of Directors of Criminal Justice Training I highly oppose the passing of HB 116. The ramifications by passing this bill will be extremely detrimental to all 11 Regional Academies across the Commonwealth of Virginia. I personally spoke to all of the other 10 Regional Academy Directors and with an almost unanimous consensus they all believe the impact and precedence that the passing of this bill will create on them financially as well as the hundreds of agencies and jurisdictions they serve would be astronomical. Regional Academies in Virginia receive 75% or more of their funding from the Agencies they serve. When an agency attempts to leave under 15.2-1747 they must receive 2/3 majority voting from the Board of Directors within the Academy. It is common practice to charge a fee as determined by each individual Academy Board of Directors if the 2/3 majority was reached for withdrawal. This additional fee helps offset the loss of the agency and also allows the academy to raise its dues at a lower rate for the next few years on all of the remaining agencies and jurisdictions. By allowing HB 116 to pass, and allowing an agency to leave without penalty or fee would be extremely detrimental to the Regional Academy system and make it impossible for academies to budget for capitol improvements, personnel or function yearly because of the revolving door of agencies that would be allowed to leave with no penalty making budgeting impossible. Passing of HB 116 would cripple regional academies and cost hundreds of other jurisdictions in the process because they would have to pay more to keep the Regional Academies funded. The Regional Academy Directors support following the current code 15.2-1747 and want the process to stay the same.

Last Name: Vickers Organization: Cardinal Criminal Justice Academy Locality: Montvale

Comments Document

Since the mid-1980s, concerns have been raised about the instability of membership in the regional criminal justice training academies. Disruption of academy training activities due to membership withdrawals has been seen as having an adverse impact on the quality of training. In 1999 Senate Joint Resolution 411 (1999) directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to study methods to stabilize the membership of regional criminal justice training academies. Staff of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) were directed to assist in the study. This review found that membership withdrawals do result in the loss of funding and training resources, which can be disruptive. Thus the creation of 15.2-1747 which is attached for your review. The academies are largely dependent on officers from member agencies to serve as instructors, and facilities from member agencies are used for some training activities. The loss of such resources makes planning for training programs difficult. These findings are not new, however. DCJS has raised such concerns since 1987, when a consultant completed a review of regional academy operations. This would cause a fee increase for all other agencies at Cardinal Academy of around $10.40 per officer. This fee increase does not include an already discussed fee increase my board is considering because of the drastic reduction regional academies have seen in the state special fund that is funded by a portion of summons issued. The Town of Pulaski has discussed moving to a new academy and the prior Chief of Police conducted comparison surveys and it was concluded that it was in the best interest of the town fiscally to remain at Cardinal Academy. In the short time I have been given to address this bill, as I was unaware of it until recently, there is no way I can outline all the negative effects these withdraws will cause. I would note that the biggest outcome of this bill passing would be the overall effect it would have on the entire regional criminal justice training academy system as it would effectively violate code 15.2-1747 and return us to a system that destabilizes regional academies and was proven ineffective nearly 25 years ago.

Last Name: Dewberry Organization: Thomas Jefferson Institute Locality: Arlington

I’m just signing up to listen

End of Comments