House committee kills legislation that would eliminate mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A General Assembly Committee has killed legislation that would have eliminated the mandatory minimum sentence for assaulting a police officer.
Members of the House Courts of Justice Committee voted to table the bill and refer it to the Virginia Crime Commission for more study.
“This bill doesn’t defund the police. It doesn’t grant anyone the right to assault anybody,” said Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) as he presented the legislation Tuesday afternoon.
Surovell and other Democrats who support the legislation say it’s needed to prevent excessive punishment for minor offenses, especially in cases involving people with autism or mental illness.
“This is the only crime on the books, of all the crimes in our books, that I am aware of where the same person is the victim, the lead investigator, the lead witness and the charging police officer," Surovell said.
But critics argued the change will put law enforcement officers at risk.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls from all over about this bill, because they view a diminished support for law enforcement,” said John Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs Association.
“I’m concerned that this bill in itself will basically declare open season on police officers,” said Del. Ronnie Campbell (R-Rockbridge Co.).
In the end, some Democrats who support the concept said they had questions about the bill’s effect.
They joined Republicans who oppose it and voted to refer it to the crime commission.
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