Monday, March 20, 2017

Virginia State Police Allocates 173% More Hours Each Year to the VCheck Firearm Program than for RSO’s to Be Able to Register, Re-register and Update Data Changes to Avoid a Felony

Hours of operation, the ability to access the Virginia State Police is what this post will be about.
Of Virginia’s 22,588 (October 2016 count) Registered Sex Offenders 40% are incarcerated, 20% are under VA-DOC supervision and 40% are under Virginia State Police supervision. So that’s 60% that must re-register every 30, 90, 120 or 365 days each year. Plus anytime the RSO moves, changes jobs, enrolls or un-enrolls in school, buys or sells a vehicle or deletes or create san email address they must go in-person to a Virginia State Police location within either 3 days (not business days) or 30 minutes (for email and Instant Messenger) per Virginia law. 

Some RSO’s might go to their local police or sheriff’s office for VSP Registry changes but experience has taught most RSO’s that’s a risk with a possible felony punishment. Registration paperwork has been known to take forever to get from a local authority to the VSP or it has been lost all together, so most VA RSO’s go directly to the VSP. 

60% of the RSO population that utilizes the VSP locations is 13,177 people. The majority of those people must re-register 4 times per year (every 90 days) but some do so through the mail 2 or 3 of those 4 times. But then there are those data changes and in the last 10 years we’ve personally learned that averages one visit per year and yet we’ve never changed our residence or employment and most RSO’s do. 

So let’s go with a very conservative average of 2 visits to a VSP location per year for the 13,177 RSO’s. 

A VSP Trooper or VSP employee spends an average of 20 minutes with each RSO who comes in to re-register or update their data. 

That works out to be  26,354 visits per year to a VSP location by Virginia RSO’s at 20 minutes each that’s 8,784 hours in 2015 was needed to manage all the Registered Sex Offenders in Virginia. 

The VSP location hours average around 8:30AM to 4PM weekdays only. They are not open evenings, weekends or on holidays*. The VSP SO Hotline (804) 674-2825 is available 8:15AM to 4:45PM weekdays only. No evenings, weekends or on holidays*. 

* VSP holidays include:
·         The 4, 3-day holidays (Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Columbus Day) per year.
·         The 2, 4-day holidays (Lee-Jackson/MLK weekend and Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend) per year.
·         Plus the possibility that Christmas, New Years Day, Independence Day or Veterans Day could land on a Friday or Monday OR if they land on a Saturday or a Sunday then either that Friday or Monday will be taken as a holiday. That’s 4 more possible 3-day weekends, per year. 

Now, the Virginia State Police is in charge of running all criminal background checks for all Virginia Firearm Sellers, that program is called VCheck. 

Let’s compare how accessible the Virginia State Police is for 60% of our Sex Offender population versus Virginia Firearm Sellers. 

VSP VCheck is available from 8AM to 10PM, seven days a week, including holidays, except for December 25. Plus an 800-telephone line is utilized as an alternate method should a firearms dealer lose Internet connection or experience problems with his or her computer. 

Apples to apples? 
·               The VSP’s VCheck is available 6.5 more hours everyday than the VSP locations are for RSO’s.
·               The VSP’s VCheck is available every weekend, with 52 weekends that’s 104 additional days per year that VCheck is available but not the VSP locations for RSO’s.
·               The VSP’s VCheck is available every holiday, except Christmas. That’s 11 VSP observed holidays that VCheck is available but the VSP locations are not for RSO’s.
·               Virginia State Police VCheck is available 14 hours per day for 364 days every year.
·               Virginia State Police Locations for RSO’s is available (depending on the location) 7.5 hours per day for 248 days per year. But as most RSO’s have learned over the years the VSP Trooper or employee manning the SO duties might be on lunch break so you wait for them to return.
·               Virginia State Police is available for 5,096 hours per year to the VCheck Program.
·               Virginia State Police is officially available for 1,860 hours per year (assuming all 7.5 hours of operation, there is an available employee) for Registered Sex Offenders to register, re-register and change any data that’s required by law.  

The Virginia State Police gives 2.7 times more hours of operation per year for the VCheck Program than they do for Virginia Registered Sex Offenders to comply with VA law. 

The VSP locations only allot 1,860 hours per year for our RSO’s to take care of all of their administrative requirements and as I worked out above 8,784 hours was really needed in 2016. 

The number of RSO’s increases every year by approximately 900 and of those additional 900 people, approximately 540 (not incarcerated) will need to re-register and update data. With my conservative average of 2 visits per year that’s 1,080 additional visits for 360 additional hours needed this year. 

So then these questions arise:
  1. How many background checks were done by VSP VCheck in 2016, 2015 or 2014?
  2. How much time (minutes, hours) does one VCheck background check take?
  3. How many employees are working for the VSP VCheck department in 2016, 2015 or 2014?
  4. How much did the VSP VCheck program cost in 2016, 2015 or 2014?
I have no idea if I filed a FOIA, if I’d get any answers to these 4 questions or not. 

I have previously suggested VSP Kiosks for Virginia’s RSO’s to be able to access 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Such a system would cost a significant amount of money for the first year but by the second year  the number of hours that have been freed up for VSP Troopers or employees who are today filing out forms and hand entering data (sometimes incorrectly) from those forms would be a significant cost saver. 

The VSP SO Registry is antiquated in so many ways don’t forget about the meta-tag /search capability failures that I raised back in 2013.  

But in 2017 the VSP is giving 173% more of their time (hours of access) for Firearm background checks then for RSO’s who face a felony for failing to re-register or update changes in data and this population increases by approximately 5% every year. So at some point these issues have to be addressed, why not now?

The system in which the VSP takes re-registration and data updates from our RSO’s is so antiquated. There should be no carbon papers; all information should be immediately entered into the database so it goes live online that day. Carbon-paper, reading someone else hand writing from a piece of paper that was stacked and sent via inter-office mail, the margin of error from smudges and typos alone is unacceptable. But the over all delay in data being reported to the VSP and being loaded online should be enough to get the Virginia Legislature to act. 

It's Time to modernize the VSP SO Registry including the entire way RSO's are notified of re-registration, submit their updates and how that data is entered into the database.  
Mary Devoy