Gov. McDonnell Signs Public Safety Bills in Stafford
Sheriff Charlie Jett also gave the governor a $20,000 check from local asset forfeiture funds to help build a Public Safety Memorial in Richmond to honor those who died in the line of duty. Two Stafford deputies have died in the line of duty since 1980.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was in Stafford County at the Public Safety Center today to ceremoniously sign 20 bills into law that support the law enforcement community, first responders and public safety.
Dozens of deputies, firefighters, first responders, General Assembly members and government officials attended the event. The legislation includes bills that clarify criminal asset forfeiture laws, authorize the transfer of monies seized from criminals to fund Virginia's Public Safety Memorial, speed aid to families who lose a loved one in the line of duty, outline procedures to obtain GPS tracking search warrants, allow State Police arson investigators to obtain search warrants, and improve court procedures.
"Our first responders, regardless of their uniform or assignment, give of themselves 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that we may enjoy the freedom and liberties that are the foundation of our nation," McDonnell said. "We have a duty to honor their bravery and courage through the enhancement of well-deserved benefits for first responders and their families, and the streamlining of procedures to help them carry out the difficult jobs they do day in and day out to keep all of us safe and secure."
Stafford County Sheriff Charles Jett also gave the governor a check for $20,000 from local forfeiture asset funds to be used for the construction of a Public Safety Memorial in Richmond to honor public safety workers who die in the line of duty. One of the new laws, HB1238, consolidated the forfeiture provisions in State Code. The law also allows public safety agencies to donate asset forfeiture money to help build the memorial.
“I can think of no finer way to use this forfeiture money,” Jett said. The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office has lost two outstanding young deputies in the line of duty; Deputy Toby Humphrey in 1980 and Deputy Jason Mooney in 2007. This memorial will honor the memory of these men who gave their life in service of Stafford County.”
Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, who patroned SB685 to streamline the process for law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for GPS tracking, is a former narcotics detective in Prince William County. He said that earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that using GPS tracking devices on a suspect's vehicle constitutes a search and would require a search warrant.
"Like so many times before, our public safety officials quickly responded and developed a reasonable approach for a law-enforcement officer to apply for a search warrant to use a GPS tracking device," he said. "Led by Governor McDonnell, Virginia's public policymakers balanced the needs of many diverse stakeholder groups in an abbreviated timeframe to ensure an appropriate and fair response to the Supreme Court's decision, protecting both our law enforcement officials as well as our personal liberties. As a former narcotics detective I was very honored to work with the McDonnell administration, Commonwealth attorney's, and the attorney general's office to formulate and pass this critical legislation. This legislation will make it easier for officers to track criminals and conduct their investigations."
Del. Jackson Miller (R-50) spoke about HB348, which clarifies criminal asset forfeiture laws.
"This legislation removes confusion for Virginia's law enforcement officials, Commonwealth's attorneys, judges, defense attorneys, and citizens and ensures that criminal activity does not pay for its perpetrators," he said. "Furthermore, additional legislation patroned by my colleagues Delegate Peter Farrell and Senators Chuck Colgan and Mark Obenshain will allocate the funds seized under these clarified asset forfeiture laws to use these monies to support a monument honoring the brave men and women who died ensuring safety and security in those same communities."
These laws took effect on July 1:
HB348 (Miller)/ SB325 (Carrico) - Ensuring Proper and Streamlined Procedures for Virginia's Asset Forfeiture Laws
- Streamlines the Commonwealth's asset forfeiture laws by consolidating the forfeiture provisions found throughout the Code of Virginia into one uniform process.
HB1238 (Farrell) and SB558 (Colgan and Obenshain) - Facilitate Asset Forfeiture Monies for the Public Safety Memorial
- Allows local law enforcement agencies to direct cash funds and proceeds from forfeited drug assets to the Virginia Public Safety Foundation to support the construction of the Public Safety Memorial.
HB1298 (Albo) and SB685 (Reeves) - Outline Procedure for Obtaining a GPS Tracking Warrant
- Provides the authority and the protocol for a law-enforcement officer to petition the court for a search warrant to permit the use of a GPS tracking device.
HB771 (Landes) - Campus Law Enforcement Definition
- Defines campus police officers, as appointed by public and private institutions of higher education, within the definition of law-enforcement officer and entitled to certain line-of-duty death benefits.
HB395 (Ransone) and SB441 (Obenshain) - Expedited Line of Duty Benefits
- Authorizes the state comptroller to release payments, advanced from the death benefits due to the beneficiary of a deceased person under the Line of Duty Act, to a funeral service provider for burial and transportation costs.
HB42 (Tata) and SB424 (Ruff) - Include National Guard Fire Company in Line of Duty Act
- Expands the definition of a deceased person to include members of any fire company or department providing fire protection services for facilities of the Virginia National Guard.
HB941 (Lingamfelter) and SB133 (Stanley) - State Police Arson Investigators Authority
- Authorizes State Police arson investigators to obtain administrative warrants to investigate fires. Current law only authorizes local fire marshals to obtain such warrants.
HB391 (Gilbert) and SB476 (Garrett) - Release of Juvenile Behavioral Health Information
- Provides for the sharing of juvenile records with state and local correctional facilities when such facility has custody of or is providing supervision for a person convicted as an adult who is the subject of such records.
HB273 (Peace) and SB293 (Lucas) - Establish Minimum Training Standards for Juvenile Correctional Officers
- Requires the Departments of Criminal Justice Services and Juvenile Justice to develop compulsory minimum entry-level training standards for juvenile correctional officers.
HB17(Kilgore) - Expedite Filing of Search Warrants
- Allows for the electronic filing of search warrant affidavits by means other than the currently authorized electronic facsimile.
HB77 (Habeeb) - Establish Court Process for Sentencing in Bifurcated Trial
- Provides that criminal sentencing by a jury shall be done by a different jury when the original jury cannot agree on punishment, unless the parties and the court agree to sentencing by the court.
SB158 (Obenshain) - Strengthen Admission to Bail Process
- Provides that a magistrate, clerk, or deputy clerk may not admit to bail a person who is charged with an offense giving rise to a rebuttable presumption against bail unless an attorney for the Commonwealth concurs or the bail previously was set by a judge.