The Martinsville Police Department is partnering with the Virginia State Police on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s “Operation Bold Blue Line,” an initiative that focuses on crime reduction, according to Martinsville Police Chief Rob Fincher.
State officials “aside some of the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding that the state has received for the very purpose of addressing law enforcement and crime reduction,” he said.
Martinsville was one of 10 cities chosen in the state for the program.
As part of the initiative, the Martinsville Police Department was awarded $568,906 to purchase equipment it might not have been able to purchase otherwise. The department also will be awarded an additional $180,000.
Fincher said the equipment phase will focus on three areas.
“One is dealing with crime prevention and it’s kind of helping to develop what some places call a ‘real time crime center,’ but it involves a network of camera systems that will be placed around the city at traffic intersections,” he said.
The system will allow the department to view the areas in real time for searches, he said. It also will be available for dispatchers’ use. They can look up an area and direct officers who are responding to calls.
The second area is equipment to help investigate crimes, Fincher said.
“So, it involves quite a bit of forensic equipment for processing crime scenes, but also equipment used to investigate crimes involving cell phones,” he said, adding the funds also will be used to purchase items, like interview room cameras.
Fincher said the last funding area is equipment to assist officers in the response to crime and officer safety.
“It’s helping us get some needed ballistic vests that we didn’t have, but also things like E-bikes, so it can assist us in patrolling walking trails that we normally have very limited access to,” he said.
There also is an increased presence of Virginia State Police troopers in the city to help with traffic safety.
Fincher said he believes the increased presence has been successful so far.
“What they’re doing is they’re assisting us in adding areas of coverage we normally couldn’t do,” and “assisting us with our general investigations as well,” he said.
Fincher said the partnership has helped to strengthen the relationship between the state and local law enforcement agencies and has brought in some resources “that traditionally would not be used in urban environments.”
As the city moves forward under his tenure, Fincher said he will continue exploring other options that can be added to complement service to the community.
“Anything that we can do to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in our jurisdiction just makes us really happy,” Fincher said.