|RICHMOND (April 7, 2021)—Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and the Virginia NAACP are launching a collaborative effort to identify and help implement reforms to the way the Commonwealth of Virginia and its law enforcement agencies handle investigations into officer-involved shooting deaths. The goal of the effort is to ensure the most possible transparency, impartiality, and public confidence in investigations into officer-involved shooting deaths.
“Investigations into officer-involved shootings should be handled by independent, unaffiliated agencies in order to avoid conflicts of interest, and to maximize the public’s confidence that justice will be served and the matter will be handled in the most honest, objective, and transparent way possible,” said Attorney General Herring. “Self-investigation of such a serious matter can understandably lead to doubt or skepticism about the outcome, which can in turn lead to mistrust and damaged relationships between agencies and the communities they serve. In recent years, different states have pursued unique and innovative strategies for handling these matters, and I intend to engage my colleagues around the county and the Commonwealth to build a consensus around a stronger process that promotes transparency, impartiality, and public trust.”
“I thank President Barnette and the Virginia NAACP for their leadership on this issue and their unwavering commitment to ensuring justice, safety, equality, and opportunity for all Virginians.”
Attorney General Herring has worked to promote safe, fair, and just policing as part of his broader efforts to reform Virginia’s criminal justice system. He launched the OAG’s largest ever training initiative on 21st policing skills like implicit bias awareness, de-escalation, and cultural competency. He has also advocated for higher training standards for officers, as well as stronger accountability mechanisms to decertify officers who do not meet the Commonwealth’s standards. He has advocated for independent investigations of officer-involved shootings as a standard practice, and worked with legislators to secure authority for the Attorney General to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations that can identify and stop illegal or unconstitutional policing, making Virginia one of the few states to enact this important accountability measure.