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$33 million poured into strengthening state, local police agencies

On Friday the 13th it was a shooting at a Denver high school, just eight miles from Columbine, where in 1999 thirteen people were killed and 24 injured.

Then Monday a man opened fire at a medical center in Reno, killing two and injuring two.

Those just two violent situations have played out across the country in the last week.

There was also recently a panic at American University when an eyewitness reported a man with a gun on. Authorities put the Washington college on lockdown as officers swarmed out to look for him. After two hours, it turned out that the alleged gunman was an off-duty officer from the Metropolitan Police Department.

Virginia Commonwealth University, at 144 acres, is a massive urban campus. The university is now the state’s largest four-year public institution and along with that comes one of the bigger campus police departments.

“It’s a tremendous challenge,” Chief John Venuti, VCU police. “It’s a tremendous burden.”

“And I think this is a commitment to the training that’s needed for campus law enforcement,” he added.

Venuti is talking about the two-million dollars they were just awarded to build a regional training facility for college and municipal police departments.

It will have indoor and outdoor firing ranges, facilities that simulate settings campus law enforcement might encounter, and classroom space for instruction. VCU Police hope when to expand training programs to include crisis intervention training (for persons with mental health issues,) crowd management training, active shooter training, and general firearms training/qualifications.

Michael Kelly, public relations at VCU police department explained that they currently use”other agencies’ facilities and are limited by availability and existing facilities that may or may not meet our needs.”

The financial crime fighting boost was distributed across the state. The Attorney General’s office said State and Local Law Enforcement agencies received a share of $33 million as part of money seized from a medical fraud case.

“Campus law enforcement has its own set of challenges very different from municipal policing.  And we deal with expectations of families on a daily basis to keep their kids safe in schools,” Chief Venuti said.

Chief Venuti said that construction on the new facility will start next year, although a site hasn’t yet been selected.

Virginia State Police will receive $6, 248, 689 to be used in numerous ways; purchasing boats, SWAT team training, radiation detection systems, tactical team training location, and in-car video cameras.

The largest appropriation of money, over three million, will go toward implementing a data system with accompanying service for Virginia’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force.

Henrico police will receive $883,811.06 for new equipment, a Crisis Intervention team and Mental Health services.

Hopewell Police will receive $29,639 for tactical supplies and equipment that facilitates SWAT team training.

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