Virginia lawmakers push to expand police decertification law

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA (AP) — A white Virginia state trooper yelled an expletive-laden threat at a Black motorist who refused to get out of his car during a traffic stop. Smiling for the driver’s cellphone camera, the trooper remarks, “Watch the show, folks,” then yanked the man out of his car by his neck.

The video sparked outrage in Virginia, but under current state law, the trooper’s conduct — unless he’s later convicted of a crime — is not grounds for disqualifying him from working in law enforcement.

State lawmakers are now pushing for changes to make it easier to decertify problem police officers and more difficult for them to hop from department to department. Their actions echo those of state lawmakers across the country who are tackling police reform amid nationwide protests sparked by several recent killings of Black people by police.

“The legislation has received pretty overwhelming bipartisan support in some states and it’s moved at a pace that is unprecedented,” said Amber Widgery, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.