From Virginia House Majority Whip Del. Alfonso Lopez:
Delegate Lopez Introduces Legislation to End Unconstitutional Policing in Virginia
HB 5072 would Empower Attorney General to Investigate Law Enforcement Misconduct
RICHMOND, Va.—Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) this week introduced House Bill 5072, which would grant the Office of the Attorney General the explicit power to investigate and take action against any law enforcement agency in Virginia that deprives people of their rights, privileges, or immunities guaranteed by the laws of the United States or the Commonwealth of Virginia. The bill was introduced as the Virginia General Assembly gathered in Richmond for the beginning of a special legislative session called by Governor Northam to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and criminal justice reform.
“Since 2017, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice has refused to address systemic failures and investigate possible unconstitutional practices in law enforcement agencies. With that in mind, the Attorney General of Virginia needs to have the authority to investigate and resolve patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing, such as use of excessive force, illegal searches, or biased policing,” stated Delegate Lopez. “This legislation finally gives the Attorney General the authority to investigate, subpoena, and bring appropriate actions in court to ensure compliance with constitutional policing standards.”
In light of nationwide protests against police brutality that arose in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd earlier this spring, House Democratic leadership has made clear their intention to address police reform during the special session and correct inequities that have long plagued Virginia’s criminal justice system. Delegate Lopez’s bill forms a key part of a broader criminal justice reform agenda House Democrats are advancing that includes, among other things, listing racially-motivated false police reports as hate crimes, banning state and local law enforcement from using chokeholds, and strengthening citizen review panels.