With just 56 days left before Election Day, Republican candidates for state-wide office addressed the annual conference of Virginia Sheriff's Association Wednesday (9/13). Saraya Wintersmith reports Ed Gillespie spoke for about a half hour at the DoubleTree in Williamsburg and vowed to prioritize officer rentention and the state’s funding disparity between local police and sheriffs.
“Those who risk your lives everyday for your fellow Virginians deserve adequate compensation, proper compensation, fair compensation,” Gillespie said to the gathering of dozens of sheriff’s officials from localities across the state.
Harkening back to his public safety plan released in July, Ed Gillespie vowed to direct his public safety and homeland security secretary to study how to create a state-wide pay schedule for all Virginia law enforcement officers.
Gillespie said the pay bands study and ultimate implementation would help prevent periodic competing demends from various law enforcement agencies. “We need to make sure that we have stable pay bands so that we have a stable process by which we are compensating you as well as other law encforcement officials and sworn officers across the Commonwealth.” Gillespie said the schedule would likely include a variable housing allowance system and factor in cost of living.
Gillespie hesitated when Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage asked if sheriff’s deputies and police officers should receive the same compensation.
“In looking at that, do you feel that deputies should be on the same pay bands as police?” Cubbage inquired.
“I’m not going to conclude that right here, right now,” responded Gillespie as the crowd shifted and began to chatter. “I want to talk to you and get input on it. What I’m saying is we have to get stability, we need an approach.”
Gillespie vowed to protect law enforcement funding in budget negotiations, if elected. He also said the state needs to address professional development funding in order to stem the flow of officers who leave to other states or other jobs once they've been trained for law enforcement work.
GOP Attorney General candidate, John Adams also made a vow to law enforcement officials while speaking in Williamsburg.
The former federal prosecutor said for the last several years, media and some politicians have been waging war on U.S. police. “I want you to know this from me, from my time as a federal prosecutor working with law enforcement officers, from my time in the Navy where we were doing counter narcotics work in the Caribbean, I want you to understand how I feel about this. I think people who put their lives on the line everyday for complete strangers should be honored and respected and when something does go south, I will never start with the assumption that the law enforcement officer did something wrong,” Adams said.
The McGuire Woods attorney also pledged that, if elected, he’ll be dedicated to the law and facts.