United States: Commonwealth of Virginia Passes Law to Check Racism in Policing

The death of a 46-year-old African/America man, George Floyd at the hands of a White Police Officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota May 25 has reawakened racial issues that had long been either shelved or spoken of only in private settings. Following that incident, steps are being taken here and there in the United States of America to reconcile the country with its sometimes-tortuous history, while charting a path forward that would make all feel at home.

 

Some states in the United States in the country are already witnessing dramatic changes in policing on the heels of the aftermath of the George Floyd tragic incident; an incident which saw thousands of people descend into the streets across the US and many parts of the world in protest against police brutality and racism not only in the US, but in many other countries. 

 

While US lawmakers are still playing hide and seek in both chambers in reforming policing in the US, “The Community Policing Act” goes into effect in Virginia, requiring law enforcement officers to ask racial questions about the driver every time they make a traffic stop.

 

The bill, according to Del Luke Torian, Democrat-Prince Williams County (sponsors,) will help shed some light as to whether some groups of people are disproportionately targeted during traffic stops by the police.

 

 “The Community Act prohibits law enforcement officers from engaging in bias-based profiling,” he said.

 

The result obtained from a similar bill implemented in the District of Columbia, DC indicated that black people were disproportionately likely to be stopped and questioned by the police in every district in the US capital. 

 

Under this bill in Virginia, police officers are obliged to record the reason for the stop, the location, whether anyone was searched or arrested, and whether a warning or citation was issued. Drivers in the State are already being cautioned on the new law and to be ready to answer questions ranging from race, ethnicity, and gender.