The 287(g) program is a program that allows a state or local law enforcement entity to enter into a partnership with ICE, under a joint Memorandum of Agreement. The program is designed to help local law enforcement agencies assist with ICE procedures. However, this program has been used to harass, intimidate and discriminate against minorities, and people of color. Minorities with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and they must be protected.
The 287(g) program has had a negative impact on tax payers and residents. The program has cost Prince William County an estimated $6.4 million annually and $25.9 million over five years to implement. To pay for the program, PWC had to raise property taxes by 5 percent and reduce funds given to local police and fire services to cover the cost of the program. Studies have shown that immigrants are 61 percent less likely to report crimes that they witnessed and 43 percent less likely to report being the victim of a crime than those who were told that local law enforcement was not working with ICE. Another study found that 44 percent of Latinos were less likely to contact police officers if they were victims of a crime because they feared that they would be asked about their own or other’s immigration status.
As Sheriff, Josh will terminate the 287(g) program and any other agreement that hurts public trust. We must protect all residents of Prince William County. It is our job to protect, assist and defend them, regardless of status.
As a parent with three children in Prince William County public schools, I am very concerned about school safety. We intrust our children to the school system everyday and we must always protect them. School shootings occur often across the US and we must be ready to protect our children and have services needed to prevent or deter individuals who wish us harm.
As Sheriff, I will insure that all my deputies have adequate active shooter training. Deputies will be familiar with where local schools are and how to enter them safely to protect lives and eliminate threats. I also would like to administer gun safety classes for our community. I believe that it is important to know how to safely load and unload a weapon. Gun owners and the families will be provided information about proper weapon storage. Weapon storage is a key component in gun safety and prevention in school shootings. We will provide everyone with the knowledge needed to protect themselves and others. We can not afford to get ready for an event, we must be ready.
Students with disabilities are twice as likely to be expelled or suspended than their non-disabled peers. Intellectual disabilities such as ADHD, autism and dyslexia are among the many disabilities that many children struggle with as they try to navigate through the school system. Children with special needs account for a quarter of public school students who are suspended, arrested or turned over to law enforcement officers.
As a parent with a teenage autistic daughter, I believe that children with special needs should not be treated like the general education students when they commit similar offenses that would land them out of school or in the juvenile detention center. There should be a special needs disability docket for court cases and more diversion programs for them to receive the care that they need to be productive, not destructive.
As Sheriff, I will insure that all my Deputies receive adequate training to assist and protect children and adults with special needs. When deputies encounter them in the courthouse or on the street, they should be equipped with the tools needed to assist, detain or protect them. I will work with our locally elected officials and our community leaders to foster non-criminal face to face contact with law enforcement officers, persons with special needs and their families. I believe that everyone must come to the table and share their concerns.
Veterans services are needed more now than ever. One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. One in six veterans who served in the most recent wars suffers from substance abuse and at least 19 percent of law enforcement officers are veterans. Unfortunately, many veterans come home and become involved in the criminal justice system because they are left untreated.
As an Iraq war veteran, I had some mental health challenges when I returned from the war. Fortunately, I had a family support system and veterans counseling to help me transition into civilian life. That’s why today I support all veterans and I am in support of the veteran’s treatment docket. Veterans gave their all for us and they deserve our best.
As Sheriff, I want to help insure that all veterans, law enforcement officers and inmates receive the services that they deserve. We must eradicate the negative stereotype about veterans who return from war. Many veterans do not seek treatment because they do not want to be labeled with a mental illness. We must encourage all veterans to seek treatment and not demonize, discriminate or shame them for seeking help.