RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus plans to introduce legislation in this special session that aims to reform police policies and combat racism.
The caucus said in a news release that Virginia must take immediate action to prevent racist behavior by law enforcement and eliminate police abuse.
"The Commonwealth is past the point for studies on policing and law enforcement—immediate action must be taken to eliminate law enforcement abuse, prevent and punish racist behaviors, weed out institutional discrimination, and increase accountability at all levels of law enforcement," the caucus said in a statement.
"As leaders, the next steps are to ensure that there is a bold swing towards greater racial and social justice and change across Virginia."
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus introduced six priorities it plans to introduce in legislation.
Those priorities include:
Address & Combat Racism Directly by:
- Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis in the Commonwealth of Virginia
- Uncovering Racial Disparities in all Areas of Policy & Creating Solutions to Bridge the Gaps
- Expanding Hate Crimes to Include False 911 Calls Based on Race
- Requiring Courts to Publish Racial and Other Demographic Data of all Low-level Offenses
Hold Police Accountable, Strengthen Regulation, & Improve Transparency by:
- Creating a Civilian Review Board with Subpoena Power
- Ending Qualified Immunity & Making Changes to Sovereign Immunity
- Establishing a Statewide Officer Database
- Standardizing and Reforming Police Administration, Training, and Accountability
- Expanding Police Decertification Criteria
- Expanding the Use of Body Cams
- Requiring Independent Investigations for All Police-Involved Shootings/Deaths
Prevent Law Enforcement Excessive Use of Force by:
- Defining and Restricting Excessive Use of Force
- Banning the Use of Chokeholds
- Restricting the Use of Tear Gas and Militarization Tactics and Weapons Against Civilians
- Passing “Breonna’s Law” to End No-Knock Warrants
Replace Law Enforcement’s Role in Certain Areas with Trained Specialists by:
- Implementing the “Marcus Alert” to Require Behavioral/Mental Health Professionals to Respond to those thought to be having Mental Health Crises
- DIVESTING from Large Law Enforcement Budgets & INVESTING More in Communities
- Reducing SRO Presence in Schools & Replacing them with Mental Health Professionals
Continue the Fight for Criminal Justice Reform by:
- Implementing Automatic Expungement
- Reinstituting Parole
- Passing Cash Bail Reform
- Increasing Good Behavior Sentence Credits
- Legalizing Marijuana
Pass COVID-19 Relief & Protections by:
- Expanding Protections Related to Housing & Evictions
- Providing Rent and Mortgage Relief
- Classifying Frontline Workers as Essential Workers
- Requiring Hazard Pay and PPE for Essential Workers
- Guaranteeing Paid Sick Leave
For more information about the plan, visit the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus website.