Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office Wins Awards

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Deputy Antonio Hash, Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven Flaherty and Sheriff Octavia Johnson.

Deputy Antonio Hash, Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven Flaherty and Sheriff Octavia Johnson.

Sheriff’s Office Wins 1st Place HEAT WAVE Award

Sheriff Octavia Johnson and the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office were presented with the 2010 First Place Heat Wave Award in their division at the Virginia Sheriff’s Association Conference held recently in Newport News, Virginia.

H.E.A.T. is an acronym for Help Eliminate Auto Theft.  The Virginia Department of State Police and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles work together with local law enforcement agencies to increase public awareness of the HEAT program.  HEAT trains local law enforcement officers and provides support by supplying equipment and promotional materials to assist in the fight against auto theft.

Sheriff Johnson was especially grateful to Deputy Anthony Sowder, the HEAT coordinator for her office, and Deputy Antonio Hash and Deputy Tamita Saunders, for their dedication to the program.

The HEAT WAVE award is presented in recognition of an agency’s efforts to promote the HEAT program and to conduct activities to increase public awareness.  To this end, the Sheriff’s office and the Police Department conducted a free VIN etching event in August at Valley View Mall.  Volunteers and officers etched 67 vehicles and eight motorcycles.

The Sheriff’s office also set up HEAT displays at the Chili Cook-Off and the Henry Street Festival and informed hundreds of local citizens about the program and upcoming VIN etching events.  City Sheriff Deputies also hand out materials at the School Extravaganza, Harvest Festival, and other public fairs and back to school nights. (Citizens wishing to get the VIN etched on their vehicle can contact the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office for the location and time of their next event.)

Sheriff’s Office Awarded Federal Reimbursement for Criminal Illegal Aliens

The United States Department of Justice recently announced the awards for fiscal year 2010 for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).  The Roanoke City Sheriff’s office was awarded $14,439 to reimburse the office for some of the costs of incarcerating undocumented aliens who have committed serious crimes in the United States.  Sheriff Octavia Johnson plans to use the award money to replace a transportation van.

There are federally mandated programs that require the Sheriff’s office to provide these services at local costs.  The federal government is pushing localities to assume more responsibility for the administration and delivery of government services.  This means that Roanoke City has to pay to house and transport criminal illegal aliens, with citizen’s tax dollars.

The Sheriff’s office has been identifying federal funding opportunities in order to be reimbursed for some of these costs.  The interaction between federal, state and local political entities is complex and often too burdensome for most local political entities; therefore most do not seek reimbursement.  However, Sheriff Johnson was determined that Roanoke City would not shoulder the entire burden of these costs.

Sheriff Octavia Johnson implemented an aggressive program of researching and applying for little known federal programs to supplement the local tax burden by hiring a company out of Dallas, Texas Justice Benefits, Inc.  JBI is a public sector consulting firm that specializes in locating and accessing hard to find federal reimbursements for local and state entities.  It was the joint effort  between the Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office and JBI that ultimately led to the receipt of this award.  The Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office was one of only 865, out of an eligible 3,140 entities across the United States, that successfully applied for these monies.

By Carla Bream
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