Virginia Governor Youngkin Aims His First Veto at Arlington County Civilian Review Board

Repost from The Virginia Star.

Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed a bill for the first time, he announced Tuesday. Delegate Patrick Hope’s (D-Arlington) HB 670 would have authorized counties operating under a county manager plan to hire an independent policing auditor to oversee its civilian review board; the bill passed out of the Senate along party lines and out of the House of Delegates with some bipartisan support. Arlington County is the only Virginia county operating under the county manager plan.

“The best way to ensure that any bad actors within law enforcement are held accountable is to stand up for law enforcement, not tear them down or subject them to politically-motivated inquiries,” Youngkin said in the press release.

Youngkin’s veto statement said, “This legislation enables law-enforcement civilian oversight bodies under the County Manager form of government to delegate all the powers entrusted to them, investing unilateral and expansive authority, to a single individual appointed directly by the governing body. Additionally, this legislation does not delineate the qualifications of the politically-appointed independent policing auditor. Furthermore, the prohibition against any person currently employed as a law-enforcement officer from service on a law-enforcement civilian oversight body conduces the appointment of an independent policing auditor without any formal input from a law enforcement officer.”

In 2021, the county adopted a civilian review board ordinance that limits the civilian review board to only make recommendations on disciplinary action.

In January, Hope told a House Counties, Cities, and Towns subcommittee that the bill was necessary because of Arlington County’s unique form of government that requires the county to get permission from the General Assembly any time the board wants to hire anyone. The bill wouldn’t have applied to any other counties, and supporters said it would help the civilian review board to be more independent, since the auditor would report to the elected board members instead of the county manager, who also oversees law enforcement.

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