July 31, 2019
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — This week the Virginia Association of Counties, or VACo, named Chesterfield County as the recipient of two 2019 Achievement Awards, including the program’s highest recognition, the “Best Achievement Award.” The county leads the VACo all-time achievement list with 32 awards, earning at least one award since the program’s inception.
The VACo Achievement Awards highlight innovative programs focused on addressing high-priority issues that challenge counties today. This year, the county received two awards, including the overall Best Achievement Award, recognizing the Police Experience Program and the county’s Detention Review Team. These awards come on the heels of Chesterfield receiving the Best Large County Achievement Award in 2017 and 2018, which recognizes the highest overall achievement among counties with a population greater than 50,000.
“Powerful, impactful programs and initiatives like these stem from Chesterfield’s commitment to building relationships with our community and bettering the lives of our citizens,” said County Administrator Dr. Joe Casey. “We are incredibly proud that the Virginia Association of Counties has consistently recognized Chesterfield’s efforts to connect with its citizens to create change and move the county forward.”
Chesterfield County’s Police Experience Program won this year’s top honor among Virginia counties, the Best Achievement Award. A judge on the awards panel said the program is needed because “it provides a positive perspective for the community and the police officers.”
“We are thrilled that our Chesterfield Police Experience Program has been recognized by the Virginia Association of Counties,” said Col. Jeffrey S. Katz, Chesterfield County’s chief of police. “Through this initiative, officers and Virginia State University students have gained a better awareness and understanding of each other. We are proud of this problem-solving partnership, and we look forward to its continued positive impact in our community.”
Launched in 2006, the program is a partnership between Chesterfield Police’s Community Services unit and the university’s criminal justice program. More than 100 students have participated in the program to date and reported that having a better understanding of police interactions has changed their perception.
Chesterfield County’s Detention Review Team was also recognized with a VACo Achievement Award. The innovative, cross-departmental team includes representation from juvenile detention homes, the Court Services Unit and Mental Health Support Services. The team was established to conduct weekly reviews of juvenile cases to ensure services are being rendered in a timely manner and the juveniles receive necessary contacts with family members, counselors, probation officers and attorneys. Since its implementation in July 2017, the team has reviewed more than 1,250 cases involving over 180 juveniles and has secured earlier court days, shorter detention stays and increased services and engagement for juveniles. Its tireless work has resulted in an overall cost savings to the county.
“Serving our citizens is always Chesterfield’s priority, and that’s what drives us as a county to continuously look for new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our community,” said Leslie Haley, chair and Midlothian district representative on the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “We are extraordinarily grateful that for the past 17 years the county’s hard work has been honored and shared with its peers through the VACo Achievement Awards.”
VACo will present the awards to the county at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting and recognize all award-winning counties at its annual conference in November.