Virginia Senate Democrats want to downgrade the charge of assault on a police officer to a misdemeanor.
Critics argue their proposal reduces protections for police officers, but with Democrats holding all levers of power in Richmond, it seems likely to gain traction. (FOX 5 DC)
Currently, assaulting an officer is a Class 6 felony with a minimum penalty of six months in jail and a maximum of five years. Misdemeanors carry a one-year maximum and no minimum.
In addition to reducing the consequences for assaulting an officer, the proposals also include a number of restrictions that would be imposed on police officers to limit the use of force. These proposals include required attempts to de-escalate situations before using force, as well as issuing warnings and exhausting “all other means” before firing shots.
The proposals also call for canceling supplemental funding to local police departments if they have had “disproportionate use of force incidents in their jurisdiction.” It is unclear if funding would be stripped automatically, or if the departments would have an opportunity to handle incidents internally first.
Additional proposed reforms include prohibiting the searches of people or vehicles based on an odor of marijuana if there is no suspicion of any other offenses, and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences.