Virginia governor signs criminal justice and police reforms

October 28, 2020 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday signed more than a dozen criminal justice and police reform laws, including a ban on no-knock search warrants, limitations on the use of neck restraints and changes that make it easier to decertify police officers for misconduct.

The legislation was approved by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly during a special legislative session called after a public outcry and nationwide protests over police brutality and racial inequality following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota.

“Too many families, in Virginia and across our nation, live in fear of being hurt or killed by police,” Northam said in a statement.


“These new laws represent a tremendous step forward in rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

The new laws include a measure that allows localities to create civilian law enforcement review boards with the authority to issue subpoenas and make binding disciplinary decisions. Another law requires law enforcement officers to intervene when they witness another officer using excessive force.

Other bills signed by Northam allow inmates to earn increased sentencing credits and some terminally ill inmates to petition the Parole Board for conditional release.