Va. attorney general outlines new policing initiative

A top state official in Virginia is kicking off a new plan to update methods for safe and effective policing.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring along with two Northern Virginia police chiefs and the Commonwealth's head of Homeland Security announced the launch of a training initiative for police recruits and veteran officers.

"Our officers deserve -- and our communities expect them to receive -- the absolute best training on the latest tools and strategies for safe, impartial modern policing," said Herring.

This effort comes at a time when police interactions are making national news almost weekly, most notably interactions with African-Americans.

"Because 21st century policing is about building trust and legitimacy between our law enforcement community and our community stakeholders," said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.

Elected officials are applauding the initiative, noting disparities in arrest and conviction rates, especially in African-American and Latino communities.

"By having these conversations and showing that it is a dual track and that everyone is at the table and understands -- whether it's the academy or experienced officers and everyone in between -- so that we can reduce ugly incidents that nobody wanted to happen," said Arlington County Board Vice Chair J. Walter Tejada.

The new initiative will provide training for officers to better handle the mentally ill. The goal is to provide them with skills to distinguish between responding to a dangerous person and someone in a mental health crisis.

And when there are so-called "bad apples" within the police ranks?

"There are internal mechanisms. The citizen controls that come and we meet, we talk, we take seriously every single complaint. And then we have to root out those people who shouldn't be in this profession, and that's part of our job of accountability," said Chief Earl Cook of the Alexandria Police Department.

The new programs will start next year. Herring is not saying how much it will cost or who will do the training.