STATEMENT: Virginia’s Pattern and Practice Bill Is a Model for States Working To Eliminate Systemic Racism in Policing

Washington, D.C. – Today, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed S.B. 5024 into law. The bill will give the state attorney general the authority to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement agencies to investigate instances of racially biased policing, including excessive force and illegal searches. Following the signing of the bill, Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

Today the Commonwealth of Virginia took an important step toward addressing systemic racism in policing. Virginia’s pattern and practice bill, much like the one passed in Colorado earlier this year, will give the commonwealth’s attorney general the authority to investigate patterns of biased policing and hold police departments accountable to the communities they serve. Notably, Virginia’s bill is the first in the nation to include a court-enforceable deprivation of funding for a municipality that fails to comply with the findings of the investigation. Since 2017, the federal government has largely abdicated its duty to investigate and prosecute patterns of racially biased policing. CAP believes that states should empower their attorneys general to use their authority to conduct these types of investigations. Virginia’s bill should serve as a model for states and Congress as they work to eliminate systemic racism in policing.

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