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Police Reform Bills Will be Heard in Virginia’s Special Session. Here’s What to Know.

August 18, 2020

Today, Virginia lawmakers will return to Richmond for the first day of a special session dedicated to police reform. The session comes as a result of increased scrutiny around police accountability and transparency, following the killings by police of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and a landmark legislative session for gun safety.

Volunteers with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action plan to testify today in support of meaningful police reform policies. As you plan your coverage, here are the policies that are likely to be discussed:

  • Use of Force Policies — Legislation being considered would prohibit chokeholds and firing into moving vehicles. Additionally, law enforcement would only be permitted to use deadly force when it’s immediately necessary to prevent a threat of death or serious injury to the officer or others, and only after officers exhaust all other reasonable alternatives.
  • De-escalation Training — Lawmakers will discuss de-escalation training and statewide professional standards for law enforcement, which would advance safety and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable.
  • Community Input Virginia’s Criminal Justice Services Board and Committee on Training serve as the policy board for the commonwealth’s criminal justice agency and oversee training for law enforcement across the Commonwealth. Proposed legislation would add a representative of a civil rights organization and two members of community-based organizations to these bodies, and decrease the number of law enforcement on these boards.
  • Accountability for Misconduct Proposed legislation would require law enforcement agencies who are hiring officers who have previously worked for other departments to request any records related to prior misconduct, and agencies across the Commonwealth to provide such records when requested. Lawmakers will also consider legislation that would strengthen the Commonwealth’s power to decertify officers who engage in misconduct.

Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic, and gun violence by police is, too. Every year, police in America shoot and kill more than 1,000 people.1 The combination of systemic racism, white supremacy, America’s gun culture, and the militarization of police is toxic—and Black people in particular are paying with their lives. Read more about gun violence and policing here.

If you have any questions about the police reform policies being discussed during this session or would like to speak to a Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteer, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]