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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK R. HERRING

~ On the passage of his “pattern or practice” bill out of both the House and the Senate ~

RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the below statement following the passage of his bill out of both the House and the Senate that will give the Office of the Attorney General “pattern or practice” investigation authority, the most important measure in his policing and criminal justice reform legislative package.

 

“Giving the attorney general’s office the ability to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations will allow my office to work as a third party to help identify and put a stop to unconstitutional policing practices,” said Attorney General Herring. “While we used to be able to rely on the federal government to help with these kinds of investigations, under the Trump Administration they have all but ceased, which it why it is crucial that my office is given this authority. I want to thank my partners in both the House and the Senate for their hard work in helping to get this significant legislation passed.”

 

Enabling the Attorney General of Virginia to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations (HB5072 Delegate Alfonso Lopez; SB5024 Senator Louise Lucas). This bill will give the Attorney General the authority to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement agencies to identify and put a stop to unconstitutional practices, such as patterns of excessive force, illegal searches, biased policing, or other unconstitutional practices. For decades the U.S. Department of Justice was a reliable partner in identifying and ending unconstitutional policing practices, often through negotiated agreements for reforms, called “consent decrees,” in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, and Ferguson, MO. Under the Trump Administration the DOJ has explicitly walked away from this responsibility, making it more important for state attorneys general to have this important tool. In June, Attorney General Herring asked Congress to expand federal law to give him and other state attorneys general clear statutory authority to conduct patterns and practice investigations. The U.S House of Representatives included this authority in the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” which passed the House on June 25, 2020.

 

Ahead of the special session, Attorney General Herring outlined his criminal justice and policing reform legislative priorities. In addition to giving the Attorney General the authority to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations, his priorities include:

  • Police Reform
  • Modernize, standardize, and elevate the rigor of police training
  • Department of Criminal Justice Services should be required to develop within a year a new basic training curriculum in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General
  • Current law enforcement officers must have 21st century policing skills included in their annual in-service training curriculum
  • Make it easier to remove bad officers from the law enforcement profession
  • Expand police decertification criteria to include misconduct, not just criminal convictions
  • Establish a more robust database of officer discipline, terminations, and decertification
  • Ban rehiring of officers who are fired for misconduct or excessive force, or who resign during an investigation into misconduct or excessive force
  • Create a “duty to intervene” for law enforcement officers
  • Ban or limit dangerous, unnecessary, and potentially deadly police tactics
  • Empower localities to establish citizen review panels
  • Require the use of body worn cameras by all law enforcement officers
  • Require law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to engage an independent agency or Commonwealth’s Attorney to conduct investigations and make prosecutorial decisions

 

  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Cash bail reform
  • Expanding opportunities for record expungement and simplifying the process
  • Continued momentum toward legal, regulated adult use of cannabis and resolve past convictions 

 

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