CRIMINAL JUSTICE + POLICING

Todd Zinicola is pretty sure it’s the only time someone has smoked a Black & Mild cigar in a Virginia courtroom at the request of a judge.He was defending a client in Fairfax who police searched after saying they smelled marijuana during a routine traffic stop. But Zinicola argued...
A Republican-sponsored bill to ban Seattle-style police-free zones failed Wednesday in a Virginia Senate committee after one Democrat called it "the most useless piece of legislation I've ever seen."Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, the legislation's sponsor, acknowledged the bill had little real-world effect because it included no penalties for local...
By Andrew RingleA bill that could reshape how law enforcement responds when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis reported out of the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 13-9.House Bill 5043 by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, would create teams of mental health service providers,...
Lawmakers in the House of Delegates gave a preliminary thumbs up Tuesday to legislation banning police from using tear gas and rubber bullets --- so-called nonlethal weapons that departments around the state and country have deployed in response to recent widespread civil unrest.“It’s currently legal for police in Virginia...
As Virginia Democrats advanced sweeping police reforms during a special legislative session that began last week, GOP lawmakers assailed the proposals as an attack on law enforcement.But with a handful of exceptions, police groups are now backing many of the reforms contained in an omnibus bill moving through the...
Empowering civilian oversight of police. Creating statewide standards for law enforcement. Requiring officers to intervene when a colleague is using unlawful force.Democrats, who have full control over the legislative process in Virginia for the first time in decades, are in broad agreement on a range of criminal justice reforms...
Two recent findings on the attitudes of Black Americans toward police — taken amid the national uproar following the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis — may sound diametrically opposed.They’re not. The surveys do, however, provide insights into the way Black motorists and pedestrians, usually with dread, approach encounters...
I’m no expert on the art of policing. Beyond my personal opinions, I couldn’t tell you when the use of force is or isn’t appropriate, or to what extent police officers should be immune from lawsuits for their actions. I wouldn't know how much militarized equipment is necessary or...
Just six months ago, Gov. Ralph Northam and fellow Democrats who had just taken charge of the General Assembly were pondering how they’d spend a nearly $300 million windfall, fruits of an exuberant economy and gaudy state tax collections.The governor had enjoyed a verdant fiscal environment for the state...
With the General Assembly set to convene for a special session next week, Virginia lawmakers are signaling strong support for legislation empowering local citizen review boards to investigate and in some cases discipline police officers accused of misconduct.“In my opinion civilian review boards must be the centerpiece of police...