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As Norfolk struggles with graduation rate, Sheriff helps kids dream bigger

With the region’s lowest high school graduation rate at 84 percent, the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office has launched a new way to inspire middle school students to rise above. The first“Youth Character Allstars” day gave 150 inner-city kids a chance to experience college life, and meet the Harlem Globetrotters, with one goal in mind: help kids dream bigger.

“We wanted to get inner-city kids excited about college. Many of them don’t understand what college is besides the educational part. A college education isn’t unreachable. It’s right there in their backyard,” Norfolk Sheriff’s Office Lt. Meryah Breeden said.

NORFOLK, Va. (Feb. 9, 2018) --  The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office (NSO) has completed its internal investigation into the death of Katrell Washington, which occurred November 16, 2017.  The investigation focused on all aspects of our operations related to Mr. Washington starting from the first moment he came into our custody.

The Norfolk Police Department’s investigation and the Medical Examiner found no indication of foul play, or that the failure of staff to follow policy and procedures led to or caused the death of Mr. Washington.

The Sheriff’s Office internal investigation did identify instances, unrelated to the cause of Mr. Washington’s death, where personnel did not follow standard policies and procedures in some areas of normal operations. 

Appropriate disciplinary actions have been taken to hold them accountable for those deficiencies. The Sheriff’s Office will not comment on the specifics of personnel decisions. Disciplinary actions occurred today, and personnel have the right to exhaust NSO grievance procedures.

The investigation identified areas of operations where improvements, above normal Department of Corrections mandates, could be made to help prevent an incident such as this from occurring again. 

One such improvement was the implementation of a form to be completed by outside law enforcement requiring them to provide any information of concern related to an inmate’s mental or medical health prior to acceptance or admission into jail. No such form existed across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sheriff Joe Baron has asked local legislators for help making such a form mandatory. 

“We are always looking for new ways and resources to better address mental illness in our jail. Our hearts go out to the family and friends who are mourning the loss of this young man. Words cannot express the pain that suicide leaves in its wake,” Sheriff Joe Baron said.

Cpt. Pestik Just before his 19-year-anniversary at the Norfolk Sheriff's Office, Benjamin Pestik was promoted to Captain. Capt. Pestik has always stood out as a leader at the NSO. He is a prime example of our values we all strive to live by every day.

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