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Supporting Community-Engaged Policing

A safer Commonwealth, with laws that protect us and protect our basic dignity, is something for which lawmakers across the political spectrum strive. While we differ in ideology and how we implement our beliefs into the laws of which we are stewards, we all take real action.

I have found this to be true since I began to serve on the Courts of Justice Committee and the Virginia State Crime Commission. This is why when HR 268 came up for a vote, I was shocked and outraged. This piece of legislation is a House Resolution, which means it is not voted on by the whole legislature and never goes before the Governor, but it is an acknowledgement of opinion by the Virginia House of Delegates. Its purpose is to officially recognize a “Day of Tears” in which aborted fetuses are mourned and people are requested to lower their flags to half-staff without any thought to the women who went through the medical procedure.

I find this offensive to women and an insidious attack on the privacy and dignity with which women are entitled to make their health decisions. In no way would I want to stop someone from mourning or expressing their opinions and feelings, but to spend government time and resources to create a day that exists as a subtle (or not so subtle) way to publicly shame women who have had an abortion is just plain wrong.

While I stood up on the House Floor to combat this legislation, it was ultimately passed. While some of my colleagues across the aisle are spending their time attacking women and their constitutionally protected rights, I am happy to report that I am working with the Governor and other colleagues across the aisle to ensure that we have adequate funding for expanded community engaged policing training.

HB 1894 would accomplish this. Community-engaged policing is a way forward in the relationship between the community and the police force that strives to protect and serve. In recent years one of the topics that has come forward time and again in respect to the community and police relationship is that of trust.

Placing officers in the community and providing them adequate training to develop relationships and understanding is one of the most effective ways to keep our communities safe and further the feeling of safety for those that live in diverse communities. Specifically this legislation will require compulsory training standards for basic training and recertification of law-enforcement officers including fair and impartial policing, verbal de-escalation, and the needs of special populations.