Yesterday, Virginia Senate Democrats unveiled police reform legislation Thursday they hope to adopt during a special session of the General Assembly later this month. See below for video, as well as bill language.
According to Sen. Mamie Locke, this is a “comprehensive bill that addresses policing reform,” in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which have “awoken Americans and Virginians to a long-standing problem that has existed in this country…and just because something happened in Minneapolis, in Louisville and in Georgia, does not mean that Virginia is immune from those kind of activities.” Sen. Locke said these bills are NOT about “being anti-police…not about defunding the police…not about being anti-law enforcement or any other negative propaganda [to change the narrative about what needs to be done] that may surface as we move these bills forward.” The point is to address “biases in our criminal justice system and the need for comprehensive policing reform measures,” which is what this legislation does. According to Sen. Locke, “that whole phrasing [“defund the police”] is used to distract and detract from exactly what it is that we’re tring to do.” See below for details of the legislation.
According to Sen. Scott Surovell, this legislation is a product of the entire Senate Democratic Caucus, incorporating feedback, and “now you have the final product in front of you.” According to Sen. Surovell, this legislation will “prevent police officers from having sex with people they arrest”; “ban no-knock warrants”; requiring more information on officers looking to be hired, including the officer’s prior disciplinary history; minimum standard training requirements; having broader grounds for decertification of police officers, including an officer code of conduct; “bright-line rules” such as not shooting into a moving motor vehicle and not using choke holds; etc. According to Sen. Surovell, a lot of officers support many of these items. There will be 9-10 more bills introduced next week, including civilian review boards, assault on law enforcement, etc. Sen. Surovell concluded that these proposals are commonsense, will make Virginia safer and are consistent with Virginia’s traditions and values for civil liberties.