History made as voters in Suffolk elect the first Black female commonwealth’s attorney


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — For 16 years, Narendra Pleas (pronounced Plez) has represented the commonwealth in criminal cases in four jurisdictions including Suffolk as the deputy commonwealth’s attorney and later in that same role in Norfolk.

But that’s just one of her areas of expertise. She is also a certified advanced emergency medical technician. She spent five years on the streets of Greensville on a volunteer rescue squad.

Outside the Norfolk court building, she reflected on her service as a first responder.

“People’s lives are in our hands. It’s a very heavy kind of weight, it’s a very heavy responsibility but I accepted it. That is what I am here to do. I want to help to make things better,” said Pleas.

Pleas was elected Nov. 2 to serve as Suffolk’s commonwealth’s attorney. She is the first Black female commonwealth’s attorney for the city.

Pleas hopes to make things better in the prosecutor’s office in Suffolk by implementing pre-trial services. The widely used program allows defendants to return to work and school while awaiting trial.

(Photo courtesy: Narendra Pleas)

She also has plans for a mental health docket as part of a new approach to law and order.

“We do have an obligation as prosecutors to keep our cities safe, but what does that mean? Does it mean that everybody who goes before me goes to jail automatically or are we assessing our cases, for example, our mental health docket? Or is there a way to make sure this person [mental health case] doesn’t come back before us? We need to be smarter about the way we prosecute,” said Pleas.

Regina Mobley: “I know you have saved lives as an EMT but as a prosecutor, have you saved lives by how you have handled cases?”

Narendra Pleas: “I would say yes. I have even had people tell me, they come up to me and said, ‘You prosecuted me and it turned out to be something good for me.'”

Pleas will also launch an aggressive program to crack down on polluters in Suffolk. She’s taking aim at illegal dumping, a crime Pleas says harms the entire community.

“This illegal dumping is polluting our city and causing us, as taxpayers, to fund someone else’s cleanup,” Pleas posted on her campaign website.

“I’m happy that the citizens of Suffolk decided to vote me in and take me on and I am looking forward to serving them,” said Pleas.

She defeated local attorney Patrick Bales. The vote will be certified Monday, Nov. 15. Longtime Commonwealth’s Attorney Phil Ferguson did not seek re-election.

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