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Nearly 70 police officers decertified for misconduct following 2020 reforms

Police SUV
Crixell Matthews
Four Chesterfield County police officers were decertified last December under a new state law. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

A state law aimed at getting problem police officers off the streets has resulted in dozens of cops losing their badges in the last year.

The law, which passed in 2020 after nationwide protests against police brutality, got bipartisan support in the General Assembly.

Law enforcement groups testified in favor of the bill, saying they struggled to get bad actors off the force because an officer fired from one agency  could then be hired by another. At the time, officers couldn’t be stripped of their certification for bad behavior unless it rose to the level of criminal misconduct.

The police reforms passed in 2020 made poor conduct, like lying during an investigation or falsifying documents, grounds for decertification.

According to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, nearly 70 police officers have been stripped of their certifications since the law took effect last March. 

“We’re 70 better,” said John Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association. “One’s too many, but 70 is not overwhelming. I’m not surprised it’s not more than that. I’m glad it’s not more than that.”

At least 12 Richmond-area police officers have been decertified since the law took effect.

Law enforcement agencies are also now required to share personnel disciplinary files with other agencies.

DCJS is in the process of adopting statewide professional standards of conduct. A task force made up of members of the public and law enforcement began meeting this fall and is expected to submit recommendations in the next few months.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.