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Virginia NAACP pushes for police transparency, officer discipline data ahead of special session on criminal justice reform

The NAACP said it wants records on use of force data, officer complaints and discipline, and the firing and rehiring of police officers with a misconduct history.

RICHMOND, Va. — On Friday, Virginia lawmakers were days away from a special session on police and criminal justice reform, and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP is pushing for specific changes.

NAACP leaders said they want public access to records on use of force data, officer complaints and discipline, and the firing and rehiring of police officers with a history of misconduct.

They also are advocating for citizen review boards of police action and a ban on choke holds and neck restraints.

“Virginians deserve and require a system that is equitable," VSC NAACP President Robert Barnette said. “The Commonwealth of Virginia is not immune to the effects of racism and it must be addressed now.”

In a release Friday, NAACP leaders said racism is a "public health crisis." They're pushing for an end to no-knock warrants and qualified immunity, and believe it should be easier to remove bad officers from law enforcement.

“That should be known to the public - transparency, transparency, transparency," Barnette said. 

This reform could require changes to Virginia’s open records laws, which allow police departments to withhold officer information under an optional exemption.

VSC NAACP Political Action Chair Gaylene Kanoyton said the time to address systemic racism is now. She said she's pushing for sweeping changes, not just small reforms.

“We’ve been picking and choosing for a long time, so it’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and making sure that we get justice done especially during this time, especially during this session," Kanoyton said.