Taking Action

More police officers banned from law enforcement in Virginia

Taking Action

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More officers are being taken off the street under new reforms to decertify police.

Four officers in Central Virginia were recently decertified, meaning they can no longer work in law enforcement in Virginia. Since 2020 there’s been an uptick in the number of police officers banned from law enforcement. Officials say that is partly due to better reporting and partly due to a new law.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ (DCJS) master list of officers contains 100 names as of July 7, 2021. The department began keeping a list in 1999.

“When you are decertified you cannot be hired by another law enforcement agency,” explained Dana Schrad, Executive Director for the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

Nearly 40 percent of the officers on the list were banned from policing in the last two years. Schrad said that historically, officers in the Commonwealth could only be decertified for three reasons.

“Did you keep up your training, did you fail or pass your drug test and have you been convicted of either a felony or misdemeanor or moral turpitude,” Schrad said.

Viral videos showing a Virginia State Trooper yelling, cursing and yanking a driver from his car prompted calls for expanding offenses for decertification to areas of behavior. In March, a new law took effect.

“The changes that went in effect [in] March of 2021 affect two key issues excessive force and untruthfulness,” Schrad said.

The Association of Chiefs of Police supported the reforms. Prior to this, Schrad said it was rather easy for problem police to department hop.

“None of our chiefs want to see someone go to another agency when we know they are a problem officer,” she said.

Among the Central Virginia officers decertified this year is former Powhatan Sheriff’s Deputy Tabree Welch. She was arrested for the violation of a protective order.

The sheriff’s office told us:

The former deputy was involved in an incident in Chesterfield County that was inconsistent with the standards of the Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office and her appointment as a deputy was terminated the following day. Decertification through DCJS was requested by the Sheriff and obtained shortly thereafter. Decertification is an important tool which must be used to ensure law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth of Virginia are of the highest caliber and are deserving of the trust their communities place in them.”

Powhatan Sheriff’s Office

Also, on the list is Emporia police officer Tyrik Scott. He was arrested for felony computer invasion of privacy. The Emporia Police Department did not respond to our requests for comment.

Former Longwood University police officer Codey Brooks was decertified for shoplifting.

“Codey Brooks is no longer employed by Longwood and we do not comment on personnel matters,“ a spokesperson for the University told 8News.

King and Queen County Sheriff’s Officer Brian Russell is on the list for a misdemeanor assault. Chief Deputy Rob Balderson told us:

“We will not have a comment on this matter because of the following,” said Chief Deputy Rob Balderson. “The incident did not occur in our jurisdiction therefore not investigated by us as to the criminal charges. We were notified of the incident by Hanover Sheriff’s office and took appropriate personnel disciplinary actions.”

DCJS is working to adopt statewide standards for decertification and more behaviors may be added to the offenses. However, we are told it will take some time to develop and then get approved. A task force made up of members of the public and law enforcement will work on this.

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