NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Operation Bold Blue Line on Monday. Right now, the Commonwealth doesn’t have a funded Witness Protection Program.
“There is really nothing else that can be provided,” Ramin Fatehi, the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney told WAVY.
Part of the proposal included victims’ support and Witness Protection Programs’ funds.
“One thing I have heard constantly going out in so many different communities is that too many victims feel like they are at risk. Without victims willing to testify, prosecutors and law enforcement cannot do their jobs,” said Attorney General of Virginia Jason Miyares.
Miyares said the funding would provide witnesses with reasonable lodging, relocation expenses and transportation.
Stop the Violence Chair Bilal Muhammad said this is a step in the right direction to help solve crime.
“(A) witness protection program is very needed because you don’t have to show who you are, but you make a big difference in the City of Norfolk and the Hampton Roads community. We are talking about reducing violence. Bringing the crime down,” Muhammad said.
Fatehi said he is pleased to hear a witness protection program is being put in the spotlight.
“The Witness Protection Program is a huge help in getting witnesses to cooperate with the police so that the police can make an arrest,” he said.
If the police make an arrest, his office can prosecute.
“The more people we can hold accountable with punishment that fits the crime, with convictions that are supported by evidence and witness, the less we have people shooting it out on the streets,” Fatehi said.
He said he couldn’t prosecute without witnesses.
“By law, if I don’t have witnesses in court, I can’t prosecute, then we dismiss cases against violent, dangerous people,” Fatehi said.
He said in some cases it’s due to witness intimidation.
Right now, Fatehi’s office can provide victim-witness advocates to help victims and witnesses navigate through the court system. He said his office is one of Virginia’s largest victim witness advocate programs.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.