By Dusty Smith, editor
Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe today unveiled his proposal for stepping up public safety enforcement in Virginia, with a keen eye on drunk driving and domestic abuse.
The Democrat’s plan, "Safer Communities, Safer Families," also called for expanded use of drug courts and reinforcing the state’s commitment to current and past public safety personnel.
McAuliffe faces Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis in this fall’s election for Virginia’s top seat. The latest policy unveiling comes as The Democratic Party of Virginia released a new video referring to Cuccinelli’s “Wild West” approach to public safet. McAuliffe’s campaign said Cuccinelli’s proposed tax cut would hurt public safety.
“That likely means dangerous cuts to public safety along with other critical areas, like education,” said McAuliffe spokeswoman Rachel Thomas.
A press release from McAuliffe’s campaign states, “From voting against tougher penalties for drunk driving, refusing to ban guns from churches and school property and introducing a tax plan that could force huge cuts in public safety funding, Cuccinelli’s extreme agenda would make our Commonwealth less safe.”
Thomas also pointed out that McAuliffe supports the Violence Against Women Act, drawing a distinction with Cuccinelli.
Part of McAuliffe’s plan calls for DUI raids of sorts to increase the chances of catching drunk drivers, who, according to his plan, “don’t believe they’ll be caught.” The plan also calls for increased penalties for domestic abuse, better enforcement of scams that harm seniors, wider use of drug courts to divert those offenders from jail or prison and a commitment to public safety budgets and personnel, including those injured on duty and retirees.
Asked about the cost of McAuliffe’s proposal, Thomas said, “Most of these proposals won’t require additional money and can be paid for through savings generated in other areas of the public safety budget.” The one exception, she conceded is the Line of Duty Act, which McAuliffe “believes is a moral issue and non-negotiable.”
One area where the candidates agree is on the incarceration rate in Virginia. Cuccinelli has said costs must be considered in sentencing, and Thomas said, “There is bipartisan consensus that we have too many people who don’t present serious threats to the Commonwealth behind bars, which is costing the taxpayers money instead of adding to our economy.”