Washington, D.C. — Today, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) outlined his top priorities for policing and criminal justice reforms ahead of the special session of the General Assembly. These proposals would reduce excessive use of force and abuses of power by law enforcement, increase transparency, and provide accountability throughout the criminal justice system.
Attorney General Herring’s push to investigate Virginia police departments for patterns and practices of unconstitutional or unlawful policing sends a strong signal that law enforcement agencies in the state must be accountable to the citizens they serve. CAP has long championed the provision of this authority to state attorneys general, especially when the federal government abdicates its role in pursuing these cases. Advocating for states to investigate law enforcement agencies within their jurisdiction demonstrates the understanding that the focus should be on reforming and improving institutions rather than taking a narrow approach to root out a few “bad apples.”
CAP applauds Attorney General Herring for proposing substantive policies that would significantly reform policing in Virginia. His proposal not only includes changes to trainings and policies on important issues such as de-escalation and the duty to intervene but also ensures that meaningful accountability structures are put into place. As CAP has consistently advocated, police reform must be comprehensive and cannot focus on low-hanging fruit at the expense of crucial accountability measures.
While police reform is rightly at the forefront of the national conversation, we are encouraged that Attorney General Herring is also proposing key reforms throughout the criminal justice system, such as bail reform and “clean slate” policies that automatically clear certain criminal records if a person does not recidivate for a set period of time. These policies will go a long way toward shrinking the footprint of the criminal justice system and making it fairer and more effective in Virginia.Array