Virginia House panel to hold summer hearings on police reform

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia House panel will begin hearings on police reform next month. House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) announced Friday that she has arranged for three joint public hearings on police and criminal justice reforms in July and August to prepare legislation.  

Filler-Corn told 8News this couldn’t hold until a special session in late August.

“It could not wait, the time is now, let’s act,” she said.

The Democrat said she’s heard the pain and frustration from Virginians across the commonwealth and it’s time now to get to work on police and criminal justice reforms. She told 8News that the House Courts of Justice and Public Safety Committees will hold the joint hearings this summer virtually.

Filler-Corn said the topics will include police accreditation and certification as well as assessing law enforcement policies and procedures. She added, “We’re talking about banning chokeholds, we’re talking about no-knock warrants, civilian review boards, overall use of force.”

Many of the issues are part of a list of proposals from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus including restricting police use of tear gas and establishing a statewide officer database. When 8News asked Filler-Corn if restricting tear gas would be discussed she said, “All of the ideas will have to be considered and vetted and researched.”

On the issue of the public having access to officer records and past complaints Filler-Corn said, “Everything is on the table and everything should be considered.”

8News reached out to House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert (Shenandoah). We were told his office learned about the hearing from the press. Yet earlier this month, Gilbert told us he did not support disbanding or defunding police.

“We will be less safe, social workers are not going to come to your house and save you from a burglar, a racist or a murderer,” Gilbert said.

Filler-Corn says she too is not a fan of the phrase “defund police.” She says it is more about reforming police departments so they can be better servants of the people they serve.

A date for first hearing has yet to be set.

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