Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: March 26, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation That Would Undermine Public Accountability of Law Enforcement

RICHMOND—Governor Northam today vetoed Senate Bill 1150, which would prohibit magistrates from issuing misdemeanor arrest warrants against law enforcement officers without prior consent from the attorney for the Commonwealth or the local law enforcement agency, if the alleged offense is related to the officer’s official duties. This bill would unnecessarily limit the authority of our magistrates and reduce citizens’ ability to hold law enforcement officers accountable. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

March 26, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1150. This bill prohibits magistrates from issuing misdemeanor arrest warrants against law enforcement officers without prior consent from the attorney for the Commonwealth or the local law enforcement agency if the alleged offense is related to the officer’s official duties.

Virginia holds its law enforcement officers to high standards through mandated training and a rigorous certification process, and as a result, our Commonwealth enjoys professional law enforcement agencies and officers. Police divisions across the Commonwealth strive to build and maintain public trust by protecting and engaging with their communities. Building and maintaining public trust also requires that citizens feel they are able to hold police officers accountable if the law has been violated.

Senate Bill 1150 prohibits Virginia’s magistrates from issuing misdemeanor arrest warrants against law enforcement officers unless the complainant is a law enforcement or animal control officer, or the attorney for the Commonwealth has given prior approval. We rely on our magistrates to use their judgment in issuing other warrants—there is no reason to treat cases involving law enforcement officers differently.

This bill would prevent citizens from holding law enforcement officers accountable and unnecessarily limits the authority of our magistrates.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

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