Virginia’s police chiefs support a move to strengthen the state’s police officer decertification law, reports the Associated Press. Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, told the state crime commission that the organization is working with the Department of Criminal Justice Services on a proposal to beef up a statute that has resulted in only four police officers losing certification over the last two years. Nothing is firm yet, Schrad said, but she may have something for the commission to consider at its Dec. 5 meeting.
State law allows decertification of an officer for a felony conviction, failing to meet training requirements and failing or refusing to submit to a drug test. Schrad said the offenses could also include serious misdemeanor convictions. “A misdemeanor conviction resulting in one or two years in jail should probably be grounds for decertification,” Schrad said. She told the commission that more time is needed to consider expanding the law to cover “acts of moral turpitude” or other conduct that casts doubt on an officer’s fitness to serve. The commission also may consider closing an apparent loophole that has allowed some officers to escape decertification. Offending officers can be decertified only if their boss reports their conduct to the Criminal Justice Services Board. Chiefs and sheriffs sometimes allow an officer to resign and do not report the offense to the board, thus allowing the officer to get a job with another law enforcement agency.