Virginia Senate passes sweeping police reform bill

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Senate passed an expansive policing reform bill on Thursday that calls for the state to set training standards for officers and prohibits no-knock warrants and chokeholds, practices used by police that protesters and lawmakers have focused on in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The package, sponsored by Sen. Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton), would also ban law enforcement from shooting into a moving vehicle and require the state to adopt standards that expand what an officer can be decertified for, including misconduct.

Groups representing law enforcement across the commonwealth accused House Democrats of ignoring their concerns over several bills during the special session on Thursday, but said that senators were more receptive.

“We can live with it, we are not unhappy with it,” Wayne Huggins, the executive director of the Virginia State Police Association, said while speaking on the omnibus bill approved by the Senate.

According to bill patron Sen. Mamie Locke, the bill would:

  • Prohibit no-knock warrants and prevent warrants from being served at night unless a judge signs off
  • Ban chokeholds, except when necessary to protect the life of an officer or another victim
  • Prohibit officers from shooting at a moving vehicle, except in a life-or-death situation
  • Ban law enforcement officers from having sex with people they arrest
  • Expand what an officer can be decertified for, including misconduct
  • Require past employers to transfer disciplinary records/personnel files to the hiring police department
  • Set guidelines for use of force, including requiring de-escalation attempts and warning shots
  • Create a duty to intervene if one officer witnesses another using unlawful deadly force
  • Expand data reporting requirements intended to help identify racial bias in police stops
  • Order the creation of minimum training standards to be followed statewide
  • Prohibit the acquisition of military surplus equipment by local law enforcement
  • Expand commonwealth’s attorney’s access to police records for investigatory purposes

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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