RICHMOND – The Virginia State Conference NAACP is urging Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to use his authority to request the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute occurrences of law enforcement-involved shootings in the Commonwealth’s circuit courts.
Since March 2021, the Virginia NAACP has been in discussions with Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring about the ongoing issues of law enforcement accountability and the necessity for independent investigations.
Despite the Virginia NAACP’s meetings with Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring, they have failed to take any significant action. Governor Northam has shifted his focus to the legislature, while AG Herring has remained silent, refusing to ask the governor for authorization.
The goal is to compel the Governor and Attorney General to both utilize their authority to encourage better policing through better practices, encouraging transparency, and bringing the full weight of the law against bad actors who act with impunity in violating the rights of citizens.
“After months of conversations, multiple staff-level meetings, and principal-level meetings, we have reached the point where we must take further action to ensure justice & demand accountability,” says President Robert N. Barnette Jr.
The Virginia NAACP is making the following demands of Governor Northam:
The Governor should exercise his executive authority as stated in the Code of Virginia § 2.2-511 to request the Attorney General to prosecute incidents of law enforcement involving shootings in the circuit courts of the Commonwealth. (Gov. Northam’s top legal counsel has affirmed the governor’s authority to do so.)
The Governor should implement policies for the Virginia Compensation Board and Criminal Justice Services Board that provide financial incentives for local law enforcement agencies to adopt policing standards that prioritize adopting standards for training, certification, and accountability that builds upon the model of standards and transparency under development with the Virginia State Police.
The Governor should leverage the Virginia Compensation Board and Criminal Justice Services Board to have local law enforcement officers prioritize the reexamination of its policing standards so that it can become a model of accountability, transparency, and culturally responsive policing practices for other law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth.