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Virginia Senate passes comprehensive police reform bill

The measure bans neck restraints, no-knock warrants and requires officers to intervene if another officer is using unlawful use of force.

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Senate passed a pretty extensive package that was introduced by Senator Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and tackles several areas of police reform.

Senate Bill 5030 was passed in the state Senate with a 21-19 vote on Thursday, split along party lines.

The measure prohibits neck restraints and no-knock warrants. It also bans the execution of search warrants at night unless it's approved a judge. It also calls for police training in de-escalation techniques and bans officers from having sex with inmates or people they arrest.

The bill also:

  • Calls for the Criminal Justice Services Board (CJS) to adopt statewide professional standards of conduct
  • Requires sheriffs and police chiefs to notify the CJS Board within 48 hours of finding that an officer, deputy or jail guard has engaged in serious misconduct.
  • Prohibits police from using deadly force unless they believe deadly force is necessary to protect themselves or others, provides a warning before using deadly force, has a reason for using deadly force or exhausted any of the previous options.
  • Bans officers from firing into a moving vehicle, unless lives are threatened.
  • Requires that officers render aid or intervene if another officer is using excessive force or unlawful use of force.
  • Expands required data collection for traffic stops or pedestrian stops.
  • Prohibits State Police or any other law enforcement agency from accepting grants or loans of personal property from the U.S. Department of Defense for use in law enforcement activities.
  • Requires every police chief to provide the Commonwealth's Attorney access to all records on wrongful arrests, use of force complaints or other complaints where a person has been deprived of rights.
  • Requires that one member of a civil rights organization and two members of community-based organizations be appointed to the Criminal Justice Services Board.
  • Decreases the number of representatives on the Virginia Sheriffs' Association and Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police from two representatives to one representative.
  • Requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop curriculum and lesson plans for minimum entry-level, in-service and advanced training standards.

Democrats hailed it as a landmark achievement they said preserves public safety while promoting civil liberties and addressing urgent needs. 

Some Republican Senators cast the bill as a disaster for police officers that would empower criminals and cost innocent lives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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