Bills aimed at making colleges safer head to Governor Youngkin's desk

Posted at 7:35 AM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 11:31:03-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia lawmakers have passed bills that would hopefully help combat violence on college campuses in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Senate and House passed two identical bills, SB 910 and HB 1916, which would provide more direction as to how college threat assessment teams should respond when they discover a potentially dangerous person on campus.

Once they determine a credible threat, the threat assessment teams would be mandated to obtain that person's criminal history and health records, then notify university officials and local police.

The bills also would create a task force to determine best practices and would require team members to undergo a minimum of eight hours of training when they are appointed.

SB 910 and HB 1916 now head to Governor Glenn Youngkin's desk to be signed into law.

The urgency behind these bills comes after thetragedy on the University of Virginia grounds in November when three students were killed and two others were injured after a student opened fire on a charter bus after they returned from a field trip.

UVA has still not provided specific details about their threat assessment team’s investigation into shooting suspect, Chris Jones Jr., so it's hard to say whether these bills would have had a direct impact on the tragedy witnessed in November.

But UVA spokesperson Brian Coy told CBS 6 that UVA student affairs was reviewing a potential hazing issue on Sept. 15 when a student said Jones made a comment about possessing a gun. Coy claims the comment was not made in conjunction with a threat.

UVA Police Chief Tim Longo told a packed room of reporters the day after the shooting in November that the person in student affairs contacted the threat assessment team, and university officials then reached out to Jones' roommate who gave no indication of the presence of any weapons.

Around this time, UVA also learned of Jones being charged for a weapons violation in Chesterfield County.

Even though the student affairs team had escalated his case for disciplinary action, the university said they couldn’t reach Jones.

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