Youngkin signs first veto, aimed at policing oversight bill

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has issued his first veto, blocking a measure that would have allowed Arlington County’s governing board to hire an independent policing auditor.

The Republican governor announced the move Tuesday.

“The best way to ensure that any bad actors within law enforcement are held accountable is to stand up for law enforcement, not tear them down or subject them to politically-motivated inquiries,” Youngkin said in a news release.

The measure would have allowed the northern Virginia county’s board, rather than its county manager, to hire the independent policing auditor.

The measure’s sponsor, Democratic Del. Patrick Hope, said in a statement that due to its charter, Arlington is the only locality whose governing Board needs express permission from the General Assembly to make any hire. The veto will not impact the manager’s ability to fill the job, nor will it impact the disciplinary powers of the policing oversight body, he said.

“In my 13 years of service, I don’t ever recall seeing a Governor vetoing a local Charter bill,” he said in a statement. “To say that I’m disappointed the Governor would use his veto pen on a Charter bill to make a misguided political statement is an understatement.”

An Arlington County Board spokesman said he would have a statement later Tuesday.

The county voted in 2020 to create a civilian oversight board that will be able to request subpoenas of police and direct the auditor to launch investigations of individual officers, The Washington Post reported.