Author: Randi B. Hagi
As communities across the nation began more closely scrutinizing their police departments last year, so too is the city school district reevaluating Harrisonburg’s SROs – whether they should stay in the schools and, if so, what their roles and responsibilities should be. The officers — and data regarding incidents at schools — offer a glimpse into how Harrisonburg’s program operates.
The Harrisonburg City Council on Tuesday approved adding $100,000 more than originally proposed to local organizations as part of the first reading of the city budget for Fiscal Year 2022. Meanwhile, the council will pick up a debate at its next meeting about potentially increasing the real estate tax in order to help cover bond payments on the new high school. And the mayor made an announcement about potential next steps with construction at Middle River Regional Jail.
As she drives along a dirt-and-gravel road between Reddish Knob and Flagpole Knob, Lynn Cameron points out particular stands of trees and pockets of brush like a city dweller might point out their favorite coffee shop or a friend’s house they used to visit.
Those who work and live in downtown Harrisonburg may soon need to find creative places to park or might need to buy a permit because most of the city’s 10-hour parking spots are slated to disappear by mid-August.
With an abrupt transfer of 180 inmates to Virginia Department of Corrections facilities last week, the Middle River Regional Jail reached its lowest population in seven years.
People reported fewer crimes overall in Harrisonburg over the last year. And fewer defendants stayed in jail as they awaited trial. At the same time, though, many of those trials have been delayed, forcing the courts to put in overtime in order to catch up on the backlog of cases. Harrisonburg and Rockingham County’s criminal justice system — like many facets of life — has operated a little differently since the pandemic began, in some cases prompting prosecutors and judges to adapt and make exceptions they wouldn’t normally do.
As Middle River Regional Jail and its inmates continue navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, some inmates and people formerly incarcerated in the jail are speaking out about what they call unsanitary conditions and inadequate health care.