RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam met with leaders from the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) on Tuesday to discuss reforms following the explosion of protests over police brutality and the pattern of over-policing in Black communities.
"We had a very frank discussion about the pain that so many Americans are feeling right now. And the protest over-policing in communities of color," Northam said. "We also talked about what steps need to be taken to ensure that we can move forward on policies that protect our communities, and improving the way we handle other social issues such as response to people in a mental health crisis."
In a report released Tuesday, the association condemned the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and listed recommendations that they believe will bring "positive reforms and improve public safety services" for Virginia communities.
The first recommendation includes urging all Virginia law enforcement agencies to strive to achieve accredited status by both the VACP or the National Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA)
Virginia’s state law enforcement accreditation program was established in the mid-1990’s following a study by the Virginia State Crime Commission with the goal of accrediting agencies that meet a set of standards covering all aspects of law enforcement, including use of force training, bias-based policing, and mental illness response among others.
"About 130 of the approximately 365 eligible agencies in Virginia have achieved accreditation from one or both accrediting bodies," the VACP said.
The agency also recommended that a Brady standard be added to the decertification statue for officers.
A Brady violation is "proofs of lying that go to the integrity of an officer’s testimony." Because lying is not a criterion for decertification, an officer who quits or is fired can be hired by another agency.
A third recommendation includes more thorough record checks and background investigations for candidates for hire as police officers, deputies, and troopers, and to prohibit political interference by local elected officials.
"In some communities, local elected officials have the power to directly hire officers - sometimes over the objections of the police chief who has knowledge of the person's unsuitability to be a police officer," the agency said.
Additionally, the VACP has developed an online training module on implicit bias that they "will make available very soon to every law enforcement officer in Virginia free of charge."
"We look forward to the opportunity to work with government leaders, civic organizations, faith leaders and communities to heal the wounds and work together for a safer Virginia."