Virginia

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated March 5, 2020

You can contact Governor Northam using the form found on this webpage:

Summary

Key:

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Legislation Achieved

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Some Progress

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No Progress

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

Achieved:

HB 5099, which was incorporated into SB 5030 and signed into law in late October 2020, prohibits officers from seeking or executing a no-knock warrant.

1033 purchases

Achieved:

HB 5049, which was incorporated into SB 5030, also eliminates the ability of any department to "acquire or purchase (i) weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles; (ii) aircraft that are configured for combat or are combat-coded and have no established commercial flight application; (iii) grenades or similar explosives or grenade launchers from a surplus program operated by the federal government; (iv) armored multi-wheeled vehicles that are mine-resistant, ambush-protected, and configured for combat, also known as MRAPs, from a surplus program operated by the federal government; (v) bayonets; (vi) firearms of .50 caliber or higher; (vii) ammunition of .50 caliber or higher; or (viii) weaponized tracked armored vehicles."

Military style training

Some Progress:

SB 5030 also mandates that law enforcement officers receive de-escalation and implicit bias training. However, this bill does not comment on the military mindset of policing.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Virginia has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

Some Progress:

HB 1522 was passed in 2020 and would reform state laws on civil asset forfeiture to make it more difficult to seize property (i.e. require a guilty verdict before seizing property), but a federal loophole allows prosecutors to pass cases to the federal loophole and avoid this reform.

Quotas

No Progress:

Virginia has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests. Police departments claim that they have "performance standards" but not quotas. In 2014, there was an expose from a Chesterfield County police officer who claimed that he was required to meet a quota of 2-3 tickets and 1 arrest each day. Nothing has changed since.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

Virginia has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

Some Progress:

SB 5029, signed into law in Nov. 2020, "prohibits a law-enforcement officer from stopping a pedestrian for jaywalking." However, other non-violent offenses remain criminalized. SB. 1406 and SB. 1443, both introduced in January 20201, would have addressed overcriminalization in Virginia. SB. 1406 would have legalized marijuana, a drug whose criminalization disproportionately affects Black Virginians. SB. 1443 would have banned mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which contribute to growing prison populations and judicial racial disparities. Both bills died in committee

Objective justification for stops

Some Progress:

SB 5029 also "provides that no law-enforcement officer may lawfully stop, search, or seize any person, place, or thing solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana... [and] prohibits any local ordinance relating to the ownership or maintenance of a motor vehicle from being cause to stop or arrest a driver of a motor vehicle unless such violation is a jail-able offense. "

Reporting stop details

Some Progress:

In April 2020, Virginia passed the Community Policing Act, which requires officers to collect the following information during a stop: "race, ethnicity, age, gender, reason for stop, location of stop, any warnings, written citations, summons or arrests as well as the violations or charges cited, and whether any vehicles or persons are searched". HB 5030, passed in October 2020, requires "data collection for motor vehicle stops to include all investigatory motor vehicle stops, all stop-and-frisks based on reasonable suspicion, and all investigatory detentions that do not result in an arrest or summons." HB 893, introduced in January 2021, would have mandated comprehensive reporting and annual publishing of officer and arrestee data in all incidents of officer-involved death and serious injury, or in the instance of a discharged firearm. This bill died in committee.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

Virginia has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

No Progress:

Virginia has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. Some VA counties (ex. Henrico) have instituted independent offices for misconduct investigations, but the Commonwealth has yet to implement a statewide model.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

Virginia has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

Some Progress:

SB 5014, which was signed into law in late October 2020, requires law enforcement officers to complete crisis intervention training. Furthermore, SB 5038, passed in November 2020, supports the establishment of a mental health first response and alert system that uses mobile crisis co-response team programs in areas throughout the Commonwealth.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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