‘More accountability than I’ve ever seen in a court.’ How restorative justice is embedded in the Harrisonburg Police Department

On a bright fall afternoon, Officer Jason Hensley was on patrol, riding through Harrisonburg in an unmarked cruiser with a trainee officer at the wheel. Hensley had rolled down the passenger side window to take in the cool breeze and casually draped his arm against the outside of the door. The car had just passed a wooded area when Hensley heard a sharp crack.

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This is only a drill – though an invaluable one for local first responders

“This is an exercise,” Stephanie Harris told the crowd about to take part in a Monday morning training exercise with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Around her were about 160 volunteer “victims” of a simulated gas explosion at JMU’s Bridgeforth Stadium, along with dozens of rescue and security personnel that would be responding to the disaster.

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Police prepare for first community walk of 2019 on Wednesday as some residents voice concerns

Harrisonburg police officers on Wednesday plan to mingle with residents in the neighborhood surrounding the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter on Jefferson Street off of North Main Street in what will be the police department’s first “community walk” event of 2019. But some organizations in the area approached the community walk idea cautiously.

Keys to stemming rising jail population could be in the numbers. The question now is how to find them.

            While the local jail population continues to grow, the record-keeping systems used by law enforcement, the courts and other pieces of the local criminal justice system remain stuck in the past, complicating efforts to understand what’s driving that population growth or to begin addressing it. Within a year, however, new insight into local criminal justice trends could be coming from two different sources.