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Skaff: The Hypocrisy of Police Reform Legislation
Open Letter to the Virginia General AssemblyPolice reform legislation, so-called, puts law-abiding citizens of every category at a disadvantage. This legislation reduces the effectiveness of law enforcement to keep us safe while eliminating accountability and disincentives for violent predators and habitual criminals to commit crimes.The proposed legislation will make it more difficult for our police to do their jobs, limit what they can do to protect us, deter them from taking action, and discourage potential future officers from joining police departments.Politicians who talk about equity and social justice for everyone at the same time support so-called police reform legislation that will deprive any of us—especially people who have historically been underserved and marginalized—equal protection under the law.Those politicians who profess moral outrage at the Capitol being broken into now support legislation that substantially relaxes restrictions on break-and-enter theft in our homes and small family businesses and reduces accountability for offenders. For instance, COV 18.2-95 raises the threshold for felony theft and property damage, excusing a greater range of theft. It should be repealed. HR 5148 allows criminals in prison to earn sentence reduction by 50 percent for good behavior, returning them much sooner into our communities.Those politicians who find it abominable that Capitol police were assaulted during the siege of the Capitol are now supporting legislation that will make assaults on our local police more likely. SB 1306 reduces penalties for assaulting police officers. HR 1941 will require the release to the public of video of police shootings, making officers targets of subsequent vigilante violence, regardless of whether the shooting was justified. HR 2004 will require that criminal investigation files be released to the public, exposing personal information of, and thus endangering, victims and witnesses, deterring participation in criminal investigations.Those politicians who favor gun control are making gun ownership for self-defense even more important by supporting legislation that limits the range of police activity. HB 5058 restricts traffic stops for defective equipment and registration violations, which police use to detect other crimes and apprehend criminal suspects. SB 5030 changes standards for law enforcement use of force—unnecessarily increases the complexity of decision-making in critical situations—resulting in delay or nonaction in life-threatening situations.Those politicians who lament violent crime in minority neighborhoods are now endangering law-abiding minority working mothers and their children by supporting legislation that reduces accountability for violent law-breakers. SB 1244 will repeal laws that allow for the civil commitment of sexually violent criminals who are likely repeat offenders.Those politicians who claim to want to help minorities economically are now supporting legislation that forgives thieves who rob minority homes and small family businesses. HB 2290 will eliminate enhanced penalties for criminals with repeat convictions for theft.Those politicians who claim to want to help young people through such programs as free college tuition are now increasing the likelihood of impaired concentration in the classroom and loss of focus on the job as well as deadly drugged driving by legalizing marijuana use. SB 1406 and other bills intended to legalize marijuana will increase drug use among the young, as will the decriminalization law COV 182.250.1. HB 2303 will reduce penalties for drug crimes, with felonies becoming misdemeanors.Those politicians who oppose voter identification laws because they supposedly deprive minorities of the right to vote support police reform legislation that will deprive minorities of their right to property, their right to bodily safety, even their right to life itself. SB 1443 will eliminate all mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes, including violent crimes, firearms offenses, gang crimes, violations of protective orders, and impaired driving. SB 1370 retroactively allows criminals who have been convicted and sentenced to prison for felony crimes to apply for parole and early release.Previously politicians said that minority neighborhoods need to be protected from the police. But now, after Biden won the presidential election, self-designated Marxist organizations Antifa and BLM Inc. are no longer rioting about the police and destroying non-confederate historical statues. Now they are rioting about Biden not being radical enough.The objective of police reform legislation at this point appears to be weakening the police collectively and pandering for votes among the criminal population. The collateral damage will be minority neighborhoods, and all other neighborhoods, who will be more vulnerable to crime without adequate police protections. Already, municipalities where the police have been “reformed” are experiencing a sharp increase in crime. Some have even repealed “defund the police” measures.Skaff is a retired director of policy analysis for a policy organization in Washington, D.C. He lives in Roanoke County.
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