RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill that would have allowed the Arlington County Board of Supervisors to appoint an independent policing auditor will be the first measure Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoes since taking office.
The bill, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), aimed to give the county’s board of supervisors authority to hire an auditor to support a civilian oversight board. The legislation received bipartisan support in the House of Delegates, 65-35, but passed the state Senate on a 21-19 party-line vote.
In a release announcing the veto, Gov. Youngkin’s office framed the measure as an “anti-law enforcement bill” that would have created an “overly powerful politically-appointed police auditor.”
“The best way to ensure that any bad actors within law enforcement are held accountable is to stand up for law enforcement, not tear them down or subject them to politically-motivated inquiries,” Youngkin said in a statement.
Hope’s bill would have allowed the county’s law enforcement civilian review board, which can subpoena police and launch its own investigations, to delegate all its powers to the auditor. Arlington’s civilian police oversight board cannot discipline officers but can offer recommendations.
While it appears the county’s board of supervisors won’t be allowed to appoint an auditor, current law still allows the county manager in Arlington County to hire one.
In a release from last July, Arlington County said its adopted budget for fiscal year 2022 included $125,000 for the position and set a goal to bring on the auditor this spring. Arlington Democrats called out Youngkin for vetoing the bill, accusing him of playing politics “with a commonsense measure.”
The House and Senate would need two-thirds of the members present to override Youngkin’s veto, an unlikely scenario considering the original vote counts.
Youngkin’s office provided his full veto statement in the release:
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 690, which would create a new politically appointed independent auditor position for the governing body of any county with the county manager plan of government.
Chapters 29 and 30 of the Acts of Assembly – 2020 Special Session 1 allow localities to adopt law-enforcement civilian oversight bodies to make binding disciplinary determinations, including termination and involuntary restitution. This legislation enables law-enforcement civilian oversight bodies under the County Manager form of government to delegate all the powers entrusted to them, investing unilateral and expansive authority, to a single individual appointed directly by the governing body.
Additionally, this legislation does not delineate the qualifications of the politically-appointed independent policing auditor. Furthermore, the prohibition against any person currently employed as a law-enforcement officer from service on a law-enforcement civilian oversight body conduces the appointment of an independent policing auditor without any formal input from a law enforcement officer.
Investing in a single politically-appointed individual the power of judge, jury, and executioner without any input from law-enforcement officers or delineated qualifications for such individual constitutes an undue burden for those who protect and serve the community.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.