Virginia Senate votes to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for assaulting cops (op-ed)

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The following editorial is written by a retired police officer and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today

RICHMOND, VA- “Virginia is for Lovers.” That was a saying for the formerly great Commonwealth of Virginia back in the 70’s and 80’s. Today? Virginia is for criminals.

On a party-line vote, the Virginia Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would eliminate mandatory jail time for the offense of assaulting a police officer.

How did this happen? Once liberal Democrats found out what they were missing, they moved to Virginia and promptly turned it from a solid red state into a blue state craphole.

Liberals are like that. Escape high taxes and choking regulations from states like California and New York, move to a free state, and promptly vote for the same types of clowns that you fled. Makes sense.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the bill drew sharp criticism from Virginia Republicans, who called it an insult to law enforcement offices, court officials and emergency first responders.

They drew comparisons to incidents such as the violent riots that have consumed the country for going on three months after the death of George Floyd in police custody in May.

“The message to law enforcement is we don’t care about you,” said Sen. Ryan McDougle, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus.

He said it sent a message to criminals that they do not have to worry about obeying police.

Democrats disagreed, saying that the legislation, proposed by Sen. Scott Surovell, a Democrat wouldn’t do away with a felony charge for assaulting a police officer.

They said that instead the bill would guarantee that a felony is not charged in minor cases, citing cases involving people with autism or intellectual disabilities.

It would also eliminate a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail.

“You’ve got to be smart about felonies,” Democrat Sen. Dave Marsden, a former juvenile probation officer said during the senate debate.

Marsden was one of 17 senators to speak during a lengthy debate. “You can’t just be handing them out like candies,” he said.

The Senate ended up passing the bill by a 21-15 tally.

According to Breitbart News¸ a summary of the bill said it would “[eliminate] the mandatory minimum term of confinement for an assault and battery committed against a judge;

magistrate;

law-enforcement officer;

correctional officer;

person directly involved in the care, treatment or supervision of inmates;

firefighter;

or volunteer firefighter or any emergency services personnel and provides that such crime can no longer be committed as a simple assault and must result in bodily injury.”  

So apparently, not only is the Virginia State Senate unconcerned with cops being assaulted in the performance of their duties, but they also have no problem with firefighters and EMT’s being assaulted.

The claim that this is to prevent individuals with autism or intellectual disabilities appears to be nothing more than a crock.

This bill was the first of a number of police reform bills that will come before the Virginia legislature this year. It is believed that the contentious debate over this bill is a precursor to upcoming debate over other police and criminal justice reform measures the Democrats are pushing.

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Republicans meanwhile have sharply criticized the Democrat proposals, citing the ongoing violence occurring throughout the country which has seen attacks on police officers.

The violence, which had generally quelled a bit with some exceptions was back on the rise this week after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot a man who was the subject of a sexual assault warrant.

“I don’t think anybody thinks it’s OK to shoot an unarmed man in the back, said Republican Sen. Mark Peake.

However, he says that the bill pushed by Surovell is intended to appease a political agenda, driven by groups such as Black Lives Matter, to emasculate law enforcement in Virginia.

Democrats claim they are not proposing to “defund the police” in any of their legislative initiatives.

Peake continued, “All these bills might not be about defunding police, but they damn sure demoralize every law enforcement officer in the commonwealth,” he said.

Surovell initially tried to reduce the charge of assaulting an officer, court officials, or first responders to a misdemeanor, however he agreed to instead maintain the status as a Class 6 felony, however eliminated the mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months.

“The only ones these mandatory minimums help are people who work in prisons and lawyers,” Surovell said.

Democrats kept going back to the autism scenario, with Sen. Jennifer McClellan saying, “For too long in the commonwealth, there have been cases where the punishment is disproportionate to the crime and will ruin an autistic kid’s life.”

Republicans however claim that the bill, if enacted into law, would basically allow individuals to assault law enforcement officers, firefighters, or other officials unabated.

Sen. Bill Stanley, a Republican who is an attorney said that the current law acts as a deterrence, with people “understand[ing] that if you touch a police officer or first responder, you’re going to jail.”

Republicans also warned against so-called mob rule, alluding to the violent protests taking place for the past three months that have largely targeted police.

“Have you seen what our police are going through?” Sen John Cosgrove asked. “Have you seen the attacks on our police?”

Yet another senator, Sioghan Dunnavant said the bill was “a pretty big insult to our law enforcement community for doing what they’re doing.”

To clarify how tone deaf some politicians are, Surovell suggested that by paying officers more, it would help morale. Yes sir, nothing increases morale than getting paid more to have bricks thrown at your head and fireworks shot in your face.

That extra $1 an hour will make up for that. This folks is why police officers by an overwhelming margin support Republicans. Democrats continually throw down with the criminals.

Other “reform” bills filed in the Senate would ban neck restraints, eliminate acquisition of surplus military equipment, require all officers to be trained in crisis intervention or de-escalation techniques, and fund the purchase of body cameras for local police.

Gee, it’s almost like the exact same proposals in the Biden-Sanders Unity “Manifesto.”

You want to know how much Democrats in states like Virginia are “down with the revolution?” A bill in Virginia that would have BANNED so-called police-free “autonomous zones,” such as the failed “Independent Kingdom of CHOP” in Seattle, was voted DOWN in a Virginia Senate Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Republicans, was defeated by a vote of 8-5. One Democrat called it “the most useless piece of legislation I’ve ever seen.” See that, Democrats see no problem with militants taking over parts of cities. 

In response, Republican State Sen. bill Stanley said after the vote, “I”ll bring some T-shirts for our committee that say ‘Virginia is for CHOP zones.'” 

One Democrat who still had some operating brain cells, Joe Morrissey backed the bill, saying, “That seems to me as reasonable and practical and purposeful as breathing oxygen. Why wouldn’t we do that?” 

It is unknown if far-left liberal Gov. Ralph Northam will sign the bill when it comes to his desk, but past practice indicates anything which ties the hands of police or law-abiding citizens and empowers the criminals, he will be all over it.

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