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While some call for change after Tyre Nichols's death, Virginia Republicans want to get rid of police reforms

Posted at 12:14 PM, Jan 31, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia lawmakers are gearing up to discuss policing, including several bills which would change or repeal police reforms passed in 2020.

Monday night, some state leaders, including Governor Glenn Youngkin and House Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) attended a vigil at Clay Park in Jackson Ward to honor and remember Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old who was beaten to death by police in Memphis earlier this month.

“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of seeing people senselessly dying for no reason," said McQuinn.

"The disturbing and shocking video that was released on Friday evening displays incomprehensible violence towards another human being," noted Youngkin. "And we have one conclusion that we must condemn it. We must condemn these heinous acts.”

Before that vigil Monday night, house Republicans and Democrats agreed to adjourn their daily session in honor of Nichols. But some Republican lawmakers are hoping to repeal several of the more than a dozen reforms passed in 2020.

That includes removing the provisions that stopped police from pulling people over for minor traffic offenses — including tinted windows, loud exhaust systems and busted brake lights.

"We would be doing a disservice to the people of the Commonwealth by halting this progress," explained Democratic Delegate Don Scott Jr. (D-Portsmouth). “We need a systemic change in the approach to law enforcement because what we are witnessing is the effects of a fixed system."

HB 1330 passed the House Friday, and Republicans said it will make roads safer. But the bill has an uphill battle in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Another Republican lawmaker is hoping to repeal the Community Policing Act. It currently prohibits law-enforcement officers and State Police officers from engaging in bias-based profiling in the performance of their official duties.

“The Community Policing Act was voted favorably with a broad base of support," said Delegate Scott. "Our current attorney general, Jason Miyares, he voted for this bill."

A third bill filed would require law enforcement civilian oversight bodies to include at least one retired law enforcement officer who serves as a voting member.

While Virginia lawmakers remain divided on police reform, they all seem to agree the violence displayed in Memphis should not be tolerated.

"Tyre's mother called her son a beautiful soul," said Youngkin in prayer. "Lord and his memory, his light, will not ever be extinguished”

The bill to repeal the Community Policing Act has been assigned to the House General Laws Committee on Monday, and the bills dealing with the civilian oversight committees and traffic stops will soon go before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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