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Virginia Demonstrates Leadership by Signing into Law Police Reform Bills Championed By Virginia Legislative Black Caucus

Washington, DC — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauds the bold action from the Virginia legislature and Governor Northam for signing into law a package of police reform legislation championed by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus at the close of the 2020 special session. 

Statement from Molly Voigt, state legislative manager at Giffords:

“Governor Northam and the Virginia legislature, led by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, again demonstrated a strong commitment to make communities safer across the state. The police reform bills signed into law will increase transparency and help build trust between communities and law enforcement. These laws, combined with the state’s investment in community violence intervention initiatives, will make Virginia a safer place for all residents and allow law enforcement to more effectively and justly protect communities from violence. Virginia has emerged as a national leader in working to reduce all types of gun violence, and we hope other states will follow suit.“ 

During the special session, Virginia passed the following bills which Governor Northam signed: 
  • SB 5030 (Locke) Police Reform Omnibus bill which incorporates a number of reform bills passed in the House of Delegates: 
    • HB 5029 (McQuinn) Mandating the duty of one officer to intervene to stop use of excessive force by another officer. 
    • HB 5051 (Simon) Requiring decertification of a law enforcement officer who is terminated or resigns for violation of law, serious misconduct in violation of statewide standards of conduct, or during an internal investigation.
    • HB 5049 (Helmer) Demilitarizing police departments by prohibiting the acquisition and use of certain weapons and military equipment by law enforcement agencies.
    • HB 5069 (Carroll Foy) Banning the use of neck restraints by law enforcement except if immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person.
    • HB 5099 (Aird) Prohibiting no-knock search warrants.
  • HB 5072 (Lopez) / SB 5024 (Locke) Empowering the Attorney General to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations of police forces that appear to be violating constitutional rights, including unlawful discrimination.
  • SB 5014 (Edwards) Requires Law Enforcement Officers to receive crisis intervention training. 
  • HB 5043 (Bourne) / SB 5038 (McPike) Creating a statewide Marcus Alert system.
  • HB 5055 (Herring) / SB 5035 (Hashmi) Strengthening laws related to Citizen Review Panels.

This year, the state also dedicated $2.7 million to fund evidence-based gun violence intervention and prevention initiatives. Together with the bills listed above, the investments display the state’s commitment to reenvision policing and address community violence. 

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