Letter: Rush to Misjudgment

Letter: Rush to Misjudgment

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Since being elected Sheriff of Fairfax County, Stacey A. Kincaid has been actively working to transform her Office into one of positive pro-active engagement throughout the county. The hallmarks of her office are her attending civic meetings, listening to residents, and ensuring she is directly accessible to the public.

One does not spend a significant part of her life in law enforcement without developing compassion for those in need. Natasha McKenna, jailed in Fairfax on an Alexandria warrant, was desperately in need of mental health treatment, due to a long history of schizophrenia.

As a person who has worked in Law Enforcement and Corrections for over 20 years, I have seen that, despite the increasing number of mentally ill inmates in our jails, corresponding resources are not being appropriately provided. According to a December 2014 report by Mental Health America (MHA), Virginia is ranked 47th for adults with any mental illness reporting unmet needs. Most of that need in Virginia lies within our county jails.

As the death of Natasha McKenna is actively investigated by the Fairfax County Police, it needs to be said that criminal investigations take time. They require meticulous attention to detail and the gathering of factual evidence. This is done to protect the rights of the accused, victims and integrity of our judicial process. Criminal investigations usually do not lend themselves to the rapid appetite of our instant 24-news cycle or the expectations created by one-hour crime shows.

The Fairfax Sheriff’s Office is fully cooperating with the on-going investigation in regards to Natasha McKenna’s death. Sheriff Kincaid has dedicated her life’s work to protecting and serving her community. Further, she has been active in advocating that those who are mentally ill are better served in a mental health facility – not a jail. Sheriff Kincaid is absolutely dedicated to transparency and accountability, and I urge everyone to give her the time and opportunity to prove that to all of our citizens.

Jimmie Barrett