Virginia police chiefs take stance on proposals for reform ahead of special session

Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police taking a stance on nearly 40 measures

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Police reform will take center stage in Virginia during next week’s special session.

But before lawmakers return to Richmond, officers across the commonwealth are raising serious concerns.

With all eyes on police reform, those who enforce the laws are speaking up, hoping those who make the laws will listen.

“For anybody to think that there’s an easy button, that we’re going to propose a piece of legislation and that’s going to solve all of society’s problems, that’s just not realistic,” said Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall, who also serves as president of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) is taking a stance on nearly 40 measures up for debate.

The group strongly opposes two measures: changes to immunity and dropping the penalty for assaulting an officer from a felony to a misdemeanor.

“That is an absolute slap in the face to every law enforcement officer in the state and is utterly ridiculous,” Hall said.

Among the 19 other measures opposed are hot topics like reducing the number of school resource officers, ending no-knock warrants and requiring police to exhaust all options before shooting.

“A split-second decision to use deadly force when someone’s life is in danger, working through a checklist of other possible options isn’t always possible,” Hall said.

The VACP is backing more than a dozen proposals, like improving the response to mental health calls, expanding body cam usage and banning chokeholds.

Hall said there’s always room for improvement, but not being realistic could threaten the safety of our communities and our officers.

“I think it would make Virginia a more dangerous place,” Hall said.

Click here to access a list of the 38 measures being discussed, where the VACP stands on each issue and why.

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