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RPD to lead Community Walk through Willow Lawn and Malvern Gardens neighborhoods tonight

The walk kicks off at 5:30 PM on Westmoreland Street.

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From RPD:

The Command Staff will lead the officers of the Richmond Police Department on a walk at 5:30 p.m. today, October 4 through the Willow Lawn and Malvern Gardens neighborhoods. During the walk, officers will speak with community members about safety concerns they may have and what they would like to see from the Richmond Police Department.

Sector 311 Lieutenant Nathaniel Bynum said the primary crime concerns are property crimes, larcenies, auto theft and theft from motor vehicles.

“The most common report we receive are thefts from unlocked vehicles. Patrol officers are continuously educating the public on the importance of locking their vehicles and hiding valuables, but we are now seeing an increase in forcible vehicle entries,” Lt. Bynum said. “Residents should park in areas that are well-lit and well-traveled. Do not leave valuables in your car or loose change in plain view. Make sure if you do leave items in your vehicle, that they are well concealed in a locked glove compartment or your trunk.”

This event is the latest in a series of walks conducted by the Richmond Police Department in neighborhoods throughout the city. The walk begins at 5:30 PM today at 1000 Westmoreland Street.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Downtown

Senate panel shoots down bill that would make mask and vaccine mandates illegal

Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

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Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted down GOP legislation Monday that would have classified mask mandates and vaccine requirements as illegal discrimination.

The measures, proposed by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, drew unanimous support from Republicans on the Senate’s General Laws Committee.

“It’s time to give people the freedom to breathe and the freedom of choice,” Chase told the panel.

Her bills would have prevented schools, businesses and other public places from requiring people to wear masks or disclose their vaccine status.

Witnesses who spoke in support of the legislation said they opposed masks for a variety of reasons. One mother told lawmakers that masks gave her child nightmares. One man said that masks gave him seizures. A third witness said masks made her dizzy.

“We are being discriminated against,” said Doris Knicks, who spoke to the panel remotely.

On vaccines, Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, a practicing OBGYN, called it “egregious and a complete violation of an individual’s right to privacy” for businesses like restaurants to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We shouldn’t be using this as a litmus test for people to be able to get into stores,” she said.

Democrats on the panel noted vaccine requirements are not unique to COVID-19 and said businesses should have the authority to take steps to keep their employees safe.

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Downtown

Virginia lawmakers propose decriminalizing psychedelic mushrooms

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

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By Ned Oliver

Two Virginia lawmakers have introduced legislation that would end felony penalties for possession of psychedelic mushrooms, citing the drug’s growing acceptance in medicinal contexts.

“It is increasingly a recognized treatment for refractory depression and PTSD,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner whose legislation would also decriminalize peyote, a cactus that contains the psychedelic compound mescalin. “It’s changed people’s lives.”

The legislation would reduce the penalty for possession — currently a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison — to a $100 civil fine.

Sens. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, and Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The bill would put Virginia at the forefront of a nascent decriminalization movement that has primarily been limited to cities, including Washington, D.C. So far, Oregon is the only state to legalize medicinal use of psilocybin, an active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms.

The bill likely faces long odds, especially in the House of Delegates, where the newly reinstated Republican majority has historically resisted efforts to loosen drug laws. That said, Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, who leads the chamber’s Courts of Justice Committee, said he is open to hearing arguments in favor of the legislation.

“That is not something we’ve taken up before,” he said. “I’d be interested in hearing what (Adams) has to say.”

Even if the legislation were to pass, the drug would remain illegal, albeit with reduced penalties. That makes it unlikely medical providers in Virginia would embrace psychedelics as a treatment option, but Adams said it would nonetheless be a step in the right direction.

“If we decriminalize it, it allows people to learn,” she said. “It doesn’t egg people on (to use the drug). It tries to open the door for us to continue to study the positive effects on people’s mental health going forward.”

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Government

Richmond 911 switches to Internet-based system to prepare for future advancements

No longer relying on copper wires to transmit calls, the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications switched to an Internet Protocol-based 911 system in late 2021.

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No longer relying on copper wires to transmit calls, the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications switched to an Internet Protocol-based 911 system in late 2021.

The department began preparing for the switch to the digitally adapted system in 2018, and it was deployed in October 2021.

“We are consistently on the forefront of technological innovations,” said Stephen Willoughby, director of the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications. “This advancement to Next Generation 911 allows us to continue to provide outstanding 911 emergency services to the city of Richmond.”

With a vast majority of calls coming from wireless phones, this infrastructure helps ensure that 911 calls are routed to the closest emergency communications center. It also allows call-takers more accuracy in locating 911 callers, because it uses geographic information systems (GIS) in mobile phones, rather than determining callers’ locations based on cell phone towers. In addition, it provides a more direct connection, reducing the time it takes for a call to reach the emergency communications center.

If a natural disaster or other crisis were to render the emergency communications center unusable or overloaded, this Internet Protocol (IP) based system makes it easier and more efficient for the Richmond Department of Emergency Communications to continue operations and recover quickly.

“Next Generation 911 not only improves our system now, but it also will allow us to take advantage of future technological advances,” Willoughby said. These advances could include accepting the transmission of images and videos and communicating with smart devices and sensors in the future.

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