Virginia Democrats Message To Law Enforcement -- "Police" At Your Own Peril

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Police watch near the BOK Center where President Trump will hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., Saturday, June 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The verb to “police” is defined as:

The internal organization or regulation of a political unit through exercise of governmental powers especially with respect to general comfort, health, morals, safety, or prosperity; control and regulation of affairs affecting the general order and welfare of any unit or area.
A document laying out proposed reforms on police activity by Democrats in the Virginia Legislature made its way into the hands of local Fox5 News in Washington, DC.  Generally, the document lays out a series of measures the Democrats hope to get through the legislature as a package in a “special session.”  Many involve various matters dealing with the manner in which law enforcement are lawfully authorized to “police” the community, taking away from them certain tactics that are currently allowed under state law — such as “choke holds” or other neck restraints.  Rightly or wrongly, those proposals are intended to provide some “protections” for the general population from what the Legislature deems to be unnecessary and potentially dangerous police conduct.  Fine.  It’s a matter of debate.  Virginia’s voters are entitled to the legislature they vote for, and for the first time since 1996, Virginia Democrats have majorities in both the House of Commons and Senate, as well as the governorship.
But the proposed “police reforms” have another provision — one which has nothing to do with the conduct of the police.
Currently under Code of Virginia § 18.2-57. Assault and battery;  includes the following subparagraph:

(C)  if any person commits an assault or an assault and battery against another knowing or having reason to know that such other person is a judge, a magistrate, a law-enforcement officer as defined in subsection F,…  such person is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and, upon conviction, the sentence of such person shall include a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months.

As a Class 6 felony, the maximum term of imprisonment is 5 years.

The proposed reforms that are being considered by the Democrat caucus would strip out the provision for law enforcement, which would then mean that “assault on a law enforcement officer” would be no different than assault on any other individual.

Subparagraph (A) of the same statute reads:

  Any person who commits a simple assault or assault and battery is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Under Virginia law a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment of up to 1 year, with no mandatory minimum term.

When I was much younger I used to draw stories out of an old family friend in law enforcement who was a “street cop” for over 25 years.  You spend 25 years on the street as a patrolman or a patrol sergeant — as far as he ever wanted to go in supervision — and you accumulate a lot of stories about the “citizens” you encounter.  Some always stood out in his memory — usually the tough situations.  But one thing he said once after I questioned a particular tactic employed to make an arrest was “A policeman doesn’t get paid to fight.  I got paid to make arrests.”

Police tactics aren’t meant to be “fair” to the person being taken into custody.  Somehow this basic concept of “policing” seems to be lost on legislators.   They are working to reduce police options to make lawful arrests, while at the same time reducing the criminal exposure to persons choosing to resist rather than submitting to a lawful arrest.

The end result of this misguided approach to address the “grievance” crowd will be fewer arrests – police understand the message they are being sent.  Virginia will get less “policing” out of the same number of law enforcement officers as a result.

But at the same time, because reducing criminal exposure also incentivizes resisting, what arrests do take place will have a higher likelihood for combativeness.  That will lead, in turn, to more aggressive police tactics in response.

Reducing the potential criminal exposure also incentivizes “bystanders” — maybe companions or confederates of the person being arrested — to jump into the fray to help prevent an arrest from happening.

A police officer injured in making an arrest, and taken off-duty as a result, is still a police officer who must be paid for out of the agency’s budget.  Again, fewer police on the street is a reasonably foreseeable outcome.

Ignored in this entire debate is the REALITY that there is a segment of the population of this country – a segment which crosses all racial and ethnic lines — who make a “living” by committing crimes that victimize the law abiding citizens of every community.  The concept of “policing” is aimed at that segment of lawbreakers who willfully chose to take that which does not belong to them as an alternative to working and earning the things they want.

“Reforms” of the kind the majority Democrats in the Virginia legislature are seeking to pass protect the felons who live among us, thereby making EVERYONE less safe as a result.

What is that saying about the “Path to Hell” and “good intentions”?





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