The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) today joined with the Virginia Sheriffs Association, the Virginia State Police Association and the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police to address the police reform legislation under consideration in the Virginia General Assembly. In today’s new conference, VACP President Howard Hall (Roanoke County Police Chief) and VACP 1st Vice President Maggie DeBoard (Herndon Police Chief) talked about a number of bills that Virginia law enforcement believes will be detrimental to public safety in the Commonwealth.
“Efforts to eliminate qualified immunity, decrease funding for state and local law enforcement and “defelonizing” assault and battery on a law enforcement officer will do nothing but erode our ability to effectively provide public safety services,” stated VACP President Chief Howard Hall. “Many of the proposed police reforms will do nothing to protect victims or reduce crime.”
“It has been extremely disappointing to see most of these legislative proposals developed with little or no input from Virginia law enforcement,” said Herndon Chief and VACP 1st Vice President Maggie DeBoard. “We provided a detail document of proposals to the Governor and General Assembly in June and have reached out to legislators throughout this special session. Only a handful of legislators really worked with us, but an overwhelming number had little interest in hearing our concerns.”
The four law enforcement organizations that held the news conference support a number of reforms, including improved training, accreditation of law enforcement agencies and stronger standards for decertifying officers that violate critical policies or are untruthful. However, efforts to mandate civilian review boards, prohibit the acquisition of military surplus equipment or mandate all agencies to use body cameras do not come with state funding. For most localities, these unfunded reforms will create additional financial burdens for local governments that will have to find the funds to pay for the proposed legislative reforms.
“The vast majority of Virginia police officers are dedicated public servants who want to serve and protect their communities,” said VACP Executive Director Dana Schrad. “Tragically, we expect to see many officers leave policing and very few new applicants. The General Assembly won’t have to defund our agencies if our people walk away from public service.”