Comstock gets police endorsement

Republican Barbara Comstock has received the endorsement of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association which, according to the press release, “represents 36,000 current and retired law enforcement officials.”

Normally, endorsements in congressional races don’t interest me. This one does, because in 2012, the VAPBA endorsed Rep. Frank Wolf’s Democratic challenger, Kristin Cabral.

In endorsing Comstock, the VAPBA says:

“We are pleased to fully support Barbara Comstock for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District and we are confident that her knowledge and experience make her the best qualified candidate. Her background as a senior Justice Department official where she worked closely with law enforcement officials, proves that she has the knowledge and experience to work with us on issues facing the District. She understands the issues that are important to law enforcement officials here in the Commonwealth and will be a strong partner in Congress. Virginia needs leaders like Barbara Comstock who sees the importance of strong, effective law enforcement.”

Fair enough. But why the partisan flip?

Democrat John Foust can look at his own record for the reasons. He can begin by looking at the budget cuts Fairfax made in its police department in 2009, 2010 and 2011. A police association might look unkindly upon such votes.

One cut Foust voted for is of some interest (from page five of the approved budget):

This reduction results in the elimination of the self-defense and crime prevention training classes, which are provided to women in the community. The Department offers one basic four session class each month and one refresher class every other month with an average of 40 participants per class. Multiple instructors and officers are required for each class – the reduction encompasses 2,217 annual overtime hours for these instructors. The SAFE program currently provides personal safety and crime prevention training to more than 700 women each year, and is an important effort in the Department’s objective to combat the fear of crime.

You can read more about that program here.

And there was also this cut:

Reduces funding that has been necessary for a consistent flow of recruits-in-training to ensure patrol effective strength levels at the district stations. Reducing this funding will result in increased response times and a likely decrease in case closures, as well as a decrease in
quality and responsiveness of police services. Transitional hiring also lessens the use of backfill overtime, impacting the reduction related to reduced unscheduled overtime hours.

Was Fairfax, like just about everyone else at the time, facing tough budget choices? Absolutely. But now we have a little more context for the VAPBA’s endorsement decision. And we also have a little more understanding of Mr. Foust, and his priorities.