Reflecting national trends, meth arrests and deaths continue to climb in Virginia

BY: - August 1, 2019

Methamphetamine arrests and overdose deaths are climbing in Virginia, reflecting a national trend amid a crackdown on opioids. Seizures of methamphetamine spiked between 2017 and 2018, NPR reported, marking a national resurgence of the highly addictive stimulant that Virginia has also seen. Preliminary data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the first […]

Hemp is legal. Marijuana isn’t. State forensic scientists say soon they’ll have tests to tell the two apart

BY: - July 31, 2019

The state forensic science lab plans to distribute 15,000 field tests to police departments around Virginia that will help officers distinguish between hemp and marijuana plants, which can appear identical but carry very different legal implications. “You can’t tell the difference … without some kind of quantitative testing,” said Linda Jackson, who directs the Department […]

Arson, drugs and murder: Mapping 2018 crime trends in Virginia by city and county

BY: - July 31, 2019

Every summer, the Virginia State Police publishes an annual compendium of crime in the commonwealth that tallies offenses ranging from arson and assault to prostitution and drug possession. The latest 500-page report, released earlier this month in PDF form, shows violent crimes and property crimes are down while vice offenses are creeping up. But trends […]


Why do we sentence people to hundreds of years in prison?

BY: - July 28, 2019

On July 15, a Virginia judge gave James Fields Jr. a life sentence, plus 419 years, for killing Heather Heyer at the 2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally by ramming his car into a crowd. Some may wonder about the point of a centuries-long sentence – far longer than a human could serve. As a criminal justice scholar and […]

After spike in 2017, hate crimes in Virginia dip in most categories

BY: - July 28, 2019

After hitting a nine-year high in 2017, the number of hate crimes reported in Virginia dropped last year to 165, according to numbers released this month by the Virginia State Police. As in years past, a majority of the crimes reported were vandalism and simple assault and the bulk of the crimes reported involved bias […]

Twenty-year high: Where Virginia police are making the most marijuana arrests

BY: - July 22, 2019

As we reported last year, marijuana arrests in Virginia have been ticking up even as social views on the drug have softened. The trend continued again this year, with police agencies reporting about 29,000 in 2018, according to data released by Virginia State Police. That’s a 3.5 percent increase over 2017 numbers – not a […]

Two rural Virginia towns were saturated with opioid pills over four years, dataset shows

BY: - July 17, 2019

A federal judge ordered the release of a massive Drug Enforcement Administration dataset detailing just how big of a role drug companies and pharmacies have played in the country’s opioid epidemic. The data, according to the Washington Post, tracks the path of each pain pill sold in the country. Though Virginia wasn’t in the top […]

Capitol Police plan to test AI-powered weapon detection scanners

BY: - July 17, 2019

Under rules set by lawmakers, anyone with a concealed carry permit can bring a gun into the state Capitol. And lots of people do, as anyone who was around for last week’s special session on gun legislation undoubtedly noticed. That makes the Capitol Square complex a prime location to test a radio-wave powered scanner developed […]

Virginia State Capitol

Capitol Police apologize after officer forced student to stand during Pledge

BY: - July 16, 2019

Capitol Police apologized after an officer physically compelled a 16-year-old student to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance in the Senate gallery during last week’s short-lived special session on gun legislation. Monica Hutchinson, a Henrico resident, said her son, Jae, was at the Capitol on a trip with 42 members of the Boys and Girls […]

Kaine says it’s ‘completely bogus’ to compare his Virginia Tech panel to GOP’s gun plan

BY: and - July 10, 2019

After Republicans voted to adjourn Tuesday’s special session on gun legislation less than two hours after it began, they compared their plan to send bills to the State Crime Commission for study to the approach then Gov. Tim Kaine took following the 2007 killings at Virginia Tech. Kaine said Wednesday that while he did establish […]


Arming all the good guys: an ‘all-around recipe for disaster’

BY: - July 8, 2019

Back at my first full-time newspaper job, I wrote a story about a citizen’s police academy program, the kind that’s common in communities around the country and is intended to give regular people a better understanding of police training and procedures. Part of it involved a shooting simulator, an attempt to convey the difficulty in […]

Virginia courts quietly roll out online statewide criminal records searches

BY: - July 8, 2019

Virginia’s court system made it a lot easier to find online court records last week, quietly rolling out a statewide search function on its website that allows users to search by a defendant’s name to find docket information about criminal and traffic charges back to 1990 or earlier in most jurisdictions. Previously, the records were […]